Cassius, a long-running project that was a new addition to the top ranks of French electronica circa 1999, actually comprised two of the scene's most experienced producers: Philippe Zdar and Hubert Blanc-Francart (aka Boombass). Besides their productions for Mo' Wax as La Funk Mob, the duo had also manned the boards for several excellent LPs by French rapper MC Solaar. They first met back in the late '80s, working in the same studio (Zdar was an engineer, and Boombass was just learning the trade). Boombass worked with MC Solaar, and joined Zdar to release two EPs on Mo' Wax as La Funk Mob in 1994. Zdar also teamed with Etienne De Crecy (of Super Discount) to release an LP as Motorbass. Finally, Zdar and Boombass came together in late 1998 as Cassius. Combining the jazzy hip-hop of Boombass with Zdar's phase'n'filter acid-disco, Cassius debuted with the single "Cassius 1999," a club anthem and British Top 20 hit, late in 1998. The full-length 1999 appeared early the following year. Cassius returned in 2002 with Au Rêve and again in 2006 with 15 Again. The group would spend the next decade on hiatus, although Zdar kept busy with production and remixes, working with the likes of Chromeo, Phoenix, Cat Power, and the Beastie Boys. The latter two artists returned the favor when the duo re-emerged in 2016 with "Action," featuring Cat Power and the Beasties' Mike D. The single landed on the concept album Ibifornia, released later that same year. Philippe Zdar died in June 2019 after falling from the window of a tall building.
© John Bush /TiVo
© John Bush /TiVo
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Electronic - Released June 21, 2019 | Universal Music Distribution Deal
Needless to say, following the announcement of Philippe Zdar's accidental death two days before its release, this album now leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. And yet, Zdar and Boom Bass have somehow still made it taste so sweet. Released on the day of solstice, Dreems was an album designed to tour summer festivals and Ibiza pool parties, a favourite destination of Zdar’s. Three years after Ibifornia, which imagined a world that combined the White Island with California, Cassius have made another summer record, but this time with less pop and more groove. The Parisian duo have also gone light on the number of featured artists, focusing on the clean and ultra-funky production in contrast to the prestigious guestlist of their last album (which included Cat Power, Pharrell and Mike D).Matthieu Chedid is on guitar on Nothing About You, a track that pushes the boundaries of electro-funk with filtered vocals from John Gourley of the band Portugal. The Man. But it is French singer Owlle who steals the show on Don't Let Me Be, a soulful Italian disco-synth pop ballad. Mike D is back on Cause Oui!, a kind of swirling whirlwind of all the duo's influences, with the voice of the legendary Beastie Boys MC on a broken beat around an early house synth loop. Cassius follow this with two DJ hits, Calliope and W18, which revisit I'm A Woman (from the album Au Rêve, released in 2002) with American R&B legend Jocelyn Brown. Finally, don't miss the Rock Non Stop music video, an ode to sunshine with an impeccable groove production, which assembles footage from Cassius' early years in Ibiza, Paris and beyond. © Smaël Bouaici/Qobuz
Electronic - Released August 26, 2016 | UMGRI Interscope
Absent from the album bins for a decade or so, French house duo Cassius finally returned in 2016 with Ibifornia, and the easy thing to say is that Daft Punk's 2013 LP, Random Access Memories, is what likely drove them back. This sorta concept album -- about a mythical partyland that combines Ibiza and California -- comes with so much disco, and just enough Pharrell Williams, that a Nile Rodgers appearance seems just around the bend, but there's more going on here than a bunch of wannabe "Get Lucky" cash-ins. Ibifornia comes with enough funk and cool from guest vocalist Cat Power that it could be the spiritual sequel to the Tom Tom Club's debut album, plus all the faux exotica, busy soundscapes, and chugging basslines suggest the Swiss duo Yello. That's a wider spectrum than just retro disco, especially when the Beastie Boys' Mike D joins Cat Power on the extended workout called "Action," which comes off as the follow-up single to the Beastie's "Intergalactic." Pride and funk power pour out of Mike D's other punchy cut, "Love Parade," but the title track is a chilled tropical house number that gets to the concept that Ibifornia is a relaxed paradise. It's still not a complacent land, as the beautiful "Blue Jean Heart" with Portugal. The Man vocalist John Gourley is a techno ballad that feeds the soul, and it must be in the vicinity of "Pepperland," as "Hey You!" with Ryan Tedder is big, busy, and Beatlesque. Think of it as a vacation-ready alternative to Random Access Memories or Cassius' kaleidoscopic vision of mixing retro genres by the beach. Whatever way it is approached, Ibifornia is a fine getaway that ends up as a memorable trip. © David Jeffries /TiVo
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