Today I will present to you one of the finest mixes I have ever heard, made up by one of the most iconic figures in today’s electronic music scene. As the 9th CD of the Fabriclive mix series, it was released exactly 10 years ago (in April 2003). But time really has no hold on it. Show some respect for the one and only Stuart Price, and his today’s moniker, Jacques Lu Cont.
Stuart Price is what you can call a musical genius. Born in 1977, he started making music in the mid-90’s, releasing his first material before the age of 20. At that time, french artists were making it big in the electronic music industry: Daft Punk, Air, Dimitri From Paris, Cassius, Saint Germain… (see my post about DJ Falcon here). So Price cleverly decided to take an alias that sounded french: Les Rythmes Digitales.
As LRD, he released two albums in 1996 and 1999: ‘Liberation’ and ‘Darkdancer’. Neither of them actually made a great impression at the time, it was only when ‘Darkdancer‘ was re-released in 2005 that it received a well-deserved acclaim. Today, it is rightfully considered as a landmark album of this period (at least by me) and features some truly awesome tracks: Music Makes You Loose Control, (Hey You) What’s That Sound and Jacques Your Body (Make Me Sweat) (mind this?) to name but a few. In this album, Price pays tribute the 80’s sound that he loves, and fills every track with a contagious and positive energy: crazy synths, irresistible basslines, catchy vocal samples and perfectly adjusted beats. You may think that refers to pop music; well, although Price’s own productions are mainly electronic, he is indeed one of the best pop music producers out there.
Stuart Price is particularly linked to two artists: The Killers and Madonna. I will focus on his work with Madonna, because I think that’s where his talent really shines the most.
Price worked almost ten years with Madonna, most notably as her producer for the fabulous and successful 2005 ‘Confessions on a Dancefloor‘ album: he is the man behind hits such as ‘Hung Up‘, ‘Get Together‘, or ‘Jump‘. Using samples and electronic music production techniques, he structured the whole album as a DJ set (a continuous mix); he was awarded a Grammy Award for his work. He then went on tour with Madonna, as musical director but also as main keybordist, playing live on stage. The live recording is another display of his infinite talent. Whether it be the opening song (an absolutely brilliant mash-up of Madonna’s ‘Future Lovers’ and Donna Summer’s classic ‘I Feel love’) or the finale (a frankly incredible transition from ‘Lucky Star’ into ‘Hung Up’), Price uses his DJ skills to create an amazing soundtrack to an already amazing show. The climax is reached at the vey end when this massive build-up made of vocal samples, synth loops and subdued bass finally unleashes the ‘Hung Up’ chorus: the arena literaly explodes, balloons drop from the ceiling and people dance like mad ! The whole place has transformed from a concert venue into a giant nightclub.
I went to the parisian concert of Madonna, at Paris-Bercy back in 2006, I can still remember this moment when the giant disco-ball started spinning in the air, turning the place into a discotheque, the terraces vibrating to the bass. What a great concert and a great souvenir.
Before getting into the Fabriclive mix, let’s talk about another facet of Stuart Price, maybe the one he’s best known for: the remixes. Price has remixed an endless-list of artists for the past 10 years or so, under different aliases: Les Rythmes Digitales, Jacques Lu Cont, Thin White Duke, Paper Faces (with Adam Blake), Man With Guitar.. He simply has the ability to transform a pop song into a fantastic 8-minute epic journey. He is responsible for the massive 2004 Starstailor’s ‘Four the the Floor‘, remixed Coldplay (Talk, 2005), The Killers (the amazing Mr. Brightside and When You Were Young), No Doubt (It’s My Life), of course Madonna (Hung Up, the crazy version you can hear on the live recording, as S.D.P., his initials), Kylie Minogue, The Scissor Sisters.. He also remixed electronic artists such as Justice (Dance), or more recently Miike Snow (Paddling Out), which marked his return as Jacques Lu Cont last year. Since then, he has come back to production (‘Church‘, ‘Reload‘) and an album as Tracques (his new moniker) is due out this year. Much to our delight, he has begun to DJ again since summer 2012, blessing people with his amazing sets around the world.
Now that you have a sense of the fabulous contribution Price gave to the worlds of electronic and pop music, let’s go through his Fabriclive mix CD.
It kick starts quite strongly with a Thin White Duke remix, setting the tone: it is clearly dancefloor-oriented. The following tracks emphasize Price’s technique: using a repeated synth riff, he wraps it up with different drum patterns and samples. Blending tracks together to create a sort of permanent mash-up, he is always one step ahead, in total control of the music. A couple of ‘transition’ tracks open for the first highlight of the mix: ‘Give it Up (Laid Instrumental Mix)‘, by Crazy P. As the impeccable bassline slowly emerges, the dreamy synths and vocals fill up the place and literaly hypnotize the listener. What a good feeling. A brilliant transition then leads into the core of the mix: a succession of hi-energy and more relaxed tracks, yet building up on top of one another. Just like in a club, Jacques Lu Cont takes care of his crowd and rewards it with the absolutely stunning Ernest Saint Laurent’s Moonfish remix of Röyksopp – Remind Me, and his flurry of cosmic arpeggios. At this point, it is already quite amazing, but it is gonna get truly incredible.
What you get to hear is in my opinion a truly unforgettable moment. As the track seems to calm down a bit, the majestic opening theme of ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra‘ of Strauss (Yes, Richard Strauss) appears, and all of a sudden, as the beat stops, it just feels obvious. I can’t help imagining myself at this very moment, on a dancefloor, lights on, people with their hands in the air, communing all together for a handful of seconds.. A classical piece of music in an electronic mix, that is pure genius.
What is even greater is the way Price links this with the 80’s classic Eurythmics – ‘Sweet Dreams’, using the powerful final chord played by the orchestra. From here starts the second half of the mix, and a different atmosphere: Price slowly evolves from electro to rock. The Cosmos Acid Dub of ‘It’s Automatic’, by Zoot Woman (a band Price is part of) has a pretty solid build-up, just as the Medicine 8 remix that follows: it is peak time. The two next tracks are typical exemples of the electroclash movement dating back to the early 00’s, when putting saturated guitars and rocker voices into electro music was standard. Then it’s no surprise that the raging drums of ‘Gouge Away’ from The Pixies vigorously conclude the mix, before a final Brian Eno track leaves us in a calm mood. Be grateful to Jacques Lu Cont for a truly amazing set.
Unfortunately this mix is unavailable for streaming online. But you can get it at good prices over at Amazon. Do not hesitate !
Update: In some countries (UK, USA, Canada, Germany…), you may be able to listen to the mix on last.fm.