Synthèse album cover
Synthèse

Pépé Bradock

1998
Versatile Records

As central as classic disco and funk were to French house, its best practitioners reached far outside those boundaries to build up their tracks. Julien Auger knew this well — he’d played guitar in jazz-funk bands and had DJ gigs for rap crews before getting into house in the early ’90s — and his work under the alias Pépé Bradock bore that out. Synthèse is one of those house albums that’s riddled with odd little club-culture detours into eclecticism, an approach that makes it feel halfway between French touch’s wheelhouse and the more everything-at-hand sprawl of big beat. Brief cuts like Pete Rock-esque jazz-hop boom-bap interludes “Un pépé dans la dentelle” and “A/R” or the 70-second lovers’ rock/dub homage “100% Coton” feel more like skits than integral deep cuts — but they still serve as reminders that Auger’s not too beholden to the idea of house as a formula. This impulse hits a bizarre peak with the largely beatless ambient-prog hybrid “Un pepe qui bugge,” a nearly seven-minute track with a bewildering prominence midway through the record that almost serves as a total palate cleanser before the back half regroups into a succession of club bangers. But it’s not like those bangers are all that conventional, either. Synthèse takes the filter house that provided the regional flavor of the moment and exploits its breadth of moods from guitar-pierced disco-rock (“Atom Funk”) to lowrider-Citroën boogie (“5500”), wistfully soulful glides (“Lara”) to cybernetically libidinous throbs (“Wonderbra”), cosmopolitan jazz-funk reveries  (“18 Carats”) to garage-adjacent synapse-poppers (“The Charter”).

Nate Patrin

Who also suggested

If you select your preferred streamer here, we will save your preference and link to that platform if possible. This can always be changed in the Settings menu.

Apple Music

If you’d like to prioritize Bandcamp if available, tap the Bandcamp logo.

Since some albums are only available on one service, you’ll still see logos for other services if the album is only available on that service.

Next