Black Box

Nicolas Repac

Black Box

French DJ and producer Nicolas Repac has reconfigured the songs of Hollywood musicals, remixed jazz legends like Billie Holiday, and generally worked in the electro-swing vein. On Black Box, his fourth album, he triangulates early blues and field recordings by Alan and John Lomax, African music, and electronic music. If this sounds a bit like Moby’s Play, you’d be right. But while Moby’s work on that album usually went for dancefloor uplift, Repac creates a postmodern juke-joint mélange where Bo Diddley’s “Bo’s a Lumberjack” is now a hip-hop track and Blind Willie Johnson’s “Redemption Blues” sounds like a Portishead remix. The rest of the album is rounded out by original blues and source material from African artists. Highlights from the latter contingent include “Cenas de Gaby” and “Pulaar,” songs originally written by and featuring the vocals of African stars Bonga and Cheikh Lo, respectively. The overall quality and originality of the work here is a revelation, proving that there's plenty of fertile life left in sampling and being inspired by the blues and its current-day African cousins.

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