1999

Released

Hubert Blanc-Francart and Philippe Zdar had already built a notable body of work throughout the ’90s as the production duo La Funk Mob, providing beats for breakout Francophone rapper MC Solaar on his first four albums and notching some trip-hop-adjacent gems of their own on the MoWax label. So their turn towards house near the end of the decade was enough of a shift to necessitate a rebrand — even if Zdar’s mid-’90s stint with Etienne De Crecy in the disco-tinged Motorbass was already a sign that this was a natural course of events. Enter Cassius, the name they’d record under until Zdar’s untimely passing in 2019. 1999 is almost a tongue-in-cheek title in itself — if it sounds like anything redolent of that year, it’s in the tendency for French house to reclaim the ’70s, whether it’s Roy Ayers-scored Blaxploitation (the wah-wah-riddled Pam Grier shrine “Foxxy”), synth-tweaking boogie funk (the slinky Junie-caliber groove of “Club Soixante-Quinze”), or lost-classic disco floor-fillers (“Feeling for You,” which lifts its house-diva hook from a line from Gwen McCrae’s unjustly non-charting ’79 single “All This Love That I’m Givin’”). This retro-curator/new-creator duality doesn’t just stick with the butterfly collar era, though: it acknowledges electro, freestyle, and hip-hop as part of its disco-to-house lineage in ways that reveal a fascination with the way dance music evolved through the NYC club scene, doling out b-boy break anthems (“Crazy Legs”) and twitchy beatbox deconstructions (“Somebody”) that seem better suited for people who uprock with cardboard or linoleum under their feet instead of lit-up floors. And closing it out with the remixed radio edit of “Cassius 99” — a garage house-meets-Eurodisco sugar rush like no other — makes for one of the highest notes any French house album has ever ended on.

Nate Patrin