Cassius | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The press release that accompanied my copy of Cassius's new album, 1999 (Astralwerks), says it's "the album these Parisians have always threatened to make"--which is too bad, since it's less ambitious and far more blatantly retro than their best work. On their own early singles for Mo' Wax (as La Funk Mob) as well as on the tracks they've produced for Daft Punk, Air, and French rapper MC Solaar, the duo of Boombass and Philippe Zdar have fused hip-hop, acid jazz, house, and disco with greater panache and sounder logic than almost anyone else in their cluttered international field. But the new album mostly throbs with the hedonism of disco: relentless four-on-the-floor beats, lush orchestral samples, pumping bass, and snatches of hot-tub-era female vocals looped ad infinitum. Appropriately, it's a lot of fun, but nothing you'd want to take home to mother; it's got the same vibe as "Music Sounds Better With You," the smash hit by Cassius's countrymen Stardust, but not the pop structure or the density. As is the custom, Boombass and Zdar will perform as DJs for this gig. Also on the bill are a couple of the big-beat DJs represented on the Wall of Sound label's recent compilation, Bustin' Loose. On "Jacques Your Body (Make Me Sweat)" Frenchman Jacques Lu Cont of Les Rhythmes Digitales also dips into the golden era of disco, but he constructs an information overload worthy of Fatboy Slim. On "Ooh La La" London's DJ Touche (aka Wiseguys) mixes the usual overdriven breaks with old-school call-and-response snippets and Latin lounge rhythms. Thursday, February 18, 10 PM, Smart Bar, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-4140. PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Stephane Sednaoui.

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