Vitalic 'Voyager' (Clivage/Caroline International)
Nobody sane would question that Pascal Arbez-Nicolas knows how to make a banger. Way back around the turn of the millennium when the club scene was splintering, he came out with the likes of ‘Poney’ and ‘La Rock 01’, trampling the boundaries between electroclash, techno and disco, and causing major scenes wherever they were played. Now, a decade-and-a-half on, that ability hasn’t left him. Three tracks here – ‘Levitation’, ‘Use it Or Lose It’ and ‘Lightspeed’ – are solid gold, tear-your-head-off, send-the-club-into-space dancefloor destroyers. Blending masterful Moroder-style vintage synth manipulation with absolutely lethal 21st century production values, they’re up there with the very best of what any of Vitalic’s fellow French disco-doyens can do. Most of the rest of the album is great, too: the slower vocal tunes with David Shaw and Miss Kittin are blissful without losing club impact.
It all has an 80s sci-fi vibe, but is musically powerful enough to actually transport you into its vision rather than just being kitsch. Sadly, the last third of the album flops in a big way: the ‘Warm Leatherette’ pastiche of ‘Sweet Cigarette’ just feels like a comedy skit, ‘Eternity’ wastes a long build-up on a tame climax and ‘Don’t Leave Me Now’ is a nice enough electro-ballad, but the sort of thing that Robyn or Goldfrapp would do so much better. As it is, the high points still make this essential, but shorn of a few tracks, this album would be so much better. Joe Muggs