1999 (Deluxe Edition)
Before they became Cassius, Philippe Zdar and Hubert Blanc-Francard got their start crafting luxurious boom-bap for the French rapper MC Solaar. UNKLE’s James Lavelle liked their beats so much he commissioned a new round of instrumentals from the duo, signing them to his Mo Wax label as La Funk Mob. But it was their debut album as Cassius, 1999, that really made their name. Picking up where Motorbass, Zdar’s short-lived duo with Etienne de Crécy, had left off, Cassius threw themselves into silky, disco-hued productions that would prove elemental in the development of the French touch sound. Where later Cassius albums would flirt with more overt pop crossover, the slow-burning 1999 is more controlled in its intensities. A playful Gwen McCrae sample on “Feeling for You” is one of the record’s few identifiable vocals. Instead, the duo concentrates its energy on hypnotic dance grooves wrapped in funk synths and carefully filtered scraps of soul. Whatever the album’s title might suggest, it’s a sound defined primarily by its timelessness.