SebastiAn – Total
French electro authority and long-time Ed Banger signee SebastiAn has been a big name in the scene right from the beginning. Over the years he’s released a number of highly successful singles, EPs and remixes, and has become one of the scene’s biggest DJs. But despite all that, he has only just got around to releasing his debut album after more than six years in the game.
He missed the first wave back in 2007, which saw the releases of now legendary electro albums from the likes of Digitalism, Justice, Simian Mobile Disco, Boys Noize and MSTRKRFT. But after the genre well and truly took off with these albums, and properly rose to mainstream over the next couple of years, it started to become clear the world needed a bit of a rest from electro once The Black Eyed Peas and such decided to get on the bandwagon (or rather, attempted to). However, following a bit of a break, this is set to be the year electro returns. The likes of Digitalism, Danger, MSTRKRFT and Justice are all set to release new albums very soon, but this time SebastiAn is at the front of the pack with Total.
Total is most unmistakably French electro, and as such faces being compared to those who came before. Yes, bits sound like Justice. Yes, as with any other electro album, you can trace roots back to the forerunners of the scene, Daft Punk. And to be honest, there isn’t anything ground-breaking here that hasn’t been done before. But having said that, it’s a damn fine electro album, even if it doesn’t push any serious boundaries. And SebastiAn still brings his own influences and stylistic idiosyncrasies to the table.
One of the most notable differences is the degree to which SebastiAn incorporates strong disco and funk influences into the album, especially in its newer material. Indeed, most of the tracks on the album seem to lie on a quite wide sliding scale between disco, funk and electro. But despite the large difference in tone between tracks like the funky, toe-tapping lead single Embody, and the raw, pumping Motor, the whole album comes together excellently and somehow manages to sound very cohesive despite its somewhat pick ‘n’ mix nature.
Quite a few of Total’s highlights are old singles such as Doggg and Motor, but as mentioned before the new material is definitely more stylistically adventurous, and still contains a few great tracks. Embody is a definite stand-out, as is the Oizo-esque Tetra; and the rough C.T.F.O., featuring M.I.A. on vocals, will no doubt be tearing up a dance-floor near you sometime soon.
However, it’s the way that SebastiAn has interspersed the raw electro bangers with more laid-back disco and funk influenced tracks is quite possibly the album’s strongest point. It means you can listen to the whole thing through, from start to finish, without splitting an eardrum, or on the other side of the scale, falling asleep.
It mightn’t be anything ground breaking, but SebastiAn’s long-awaited debut LP Total is definitely one of the best electro albums to come out for a while. It’s nothing more, but nothing less than what you’d expect from one of the biggest names in the scene.
Total comes out June 10 on Ed Banger, distributed by Warner Music Australia and you can preview the whole thing on inthemix right now.