Installation Sonore album cover
Installation Sonore



Moby wasn’t the only artist from a rock background to drop one of dance music’s biggest crossover moves of 1999 — matter of fact, he wasn’t even the only one on his label to do so. But while his V2 labelmates in Rinôçérôse didn’t hit even remotely the same level of critical acclaim or TV-spot omnipresence with Installation Sonore as Play got, it pulls off a lot of the same moves to both brasher and more upbeat effect. Guitars are front and center here, as core members Jean-Philippe Freu and Patrice Carrié made a lateral move from their stints in alt-rock bands to create a riff-heavy approach to house music that almost sounded like house done on rock’n’roll’s terms. The almost is key here; programmer/mixer Johnny Palumbo never lets up with the supple, kick-heavy 4-on-the-floor, the guitars more frequently lean towards chicken-scratch funk and upscale disco-soul than trad-rock, stuff that doesn’t sound all that distant from what, say, Dennis Coffey or Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner might’ve been doing along the lines of “Scorpio” or “Fopp” if they’d came up a generation later. And the novelty of live instrumentation’s crossover potential eventually recedes into the more upfront purpose of maintaining a strong dance groove; cuts like opener “La Guitaristic House Organisation” and “Le Mobilier” lean into the guitar not as a genre signifier but as a vehicle for a tonal, filtered distortion not too dissimilar in spirit from analog-synth squelches. It’s a bit more evident when they digress from club mode to wax eclectic: the chirpy bossa burble of the acoustic-led “Mes vacances à Rio” (with a show-stealing jazz flute solo from Franck Gauthier), the Air-y swoon of “Popular Mechanics” (which builds its subtle waviness into a Madchester-y psych-dub crescendo) and the blues-rock deconstruction “I Love ma guitare” — which one-ups the po-faced reverence of Play by having the chutzpah to weld its slide guitar to a rhythm you could trace back to New Jack swing.

Nate Patrin

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