Célébration, a mix of ethnic fusion, ambient dub and tribal house, is definitely cause for convivialities. Didier Mignot has taken samples of indigenous music from North America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa and layered them with ambient dub beats, never favoring one sound at the expense of the other. Instead, he folds them in skillfully, resulting in a mix that is far more than the sum of its pieced-together elements.
The reverb in Mignot's dub never overpowers; it merely stimulates your feet. Although the geography of the ethnic styles varies widely from track to track (you can hear an elder chanting and a deerskin rattle being shaken in "Cheyenne", while an Indian woman wails and a sitar twangs in "Kali"), you are never jarred from your musical world. The tempo also varies from track to track, transitioning smoothly, but varying more restful, slower rhythms (see "Cheyenne") with faster-paced cuts like "Chaman". The fruit-flavored track titles may scare some of the more hardcore listeners, but don't let them put you off; although his music is similar in concept to Deep Forest and Banco de Gaia, Le Duc is interested as much in the spaces between the beats as he is in the beats themselves.
There are no "failures" here. Though there will be times when you'll you skip a track because you're in the mood for something faster or slower, you can -- and will -- listen to the hole thing straight through. The standout track, "Touareg", opens with a woman's shrieking ululation, a man chanting in Farsi, and oud playing that sounds like it came straight from an Egyptian movie theatre. By the time "Touareg" divulges its beats, you've been drawn in by the mysterious air created by the traditional sounds -- a sensual and yet somehow horrifying delight, like the snapshots in Alain Robbe-Grillet's "The Secret Room". As the music approaches its climax, you'll be certain you've heard something dangerous. Some of Célébration's songs are not for dancing (interpretive or modern, perhaps, but certainly not a traditional dance floor), and "Touareg" is definitely one of them. The stories you can hear in the sound, however, are fantastic, and they can change with every listen.
Luc Besson has already used "Touareg" in his film The Dancer, but that endeavour will definitely be intellectual, as suits the music -- and tasteful as well. Quickly -- before you hear it in a Volkswagen Jetta commercial -- get yourself a copy of Célébration, and beat the hipsters at their own game for once.
-- Jenn Sikes (Splendid E-zine reviews)