I:Cube

3 (Versatile)

Despite its celebrated ubiquity, contemporary French dance music has unfortunately suffered from the success of its biggest proponents, namely Daft Punk and Stardust. While artists such as Laurent Garnier and Miss Kittin are underground heroes, the general public seems to have largely ignored all but the filtered disco-house faves.

Nicolas Chaix, otherwise known as the prolific Parisian producer I:Cube, is clearly doing his damndest to change such popular notions. His latest -- and easily greatest -- full-length effort, the appropriately titled 3 (it's his third album), offers a number of subtle masterpieces. I:Cube primarily traffics in groovy house and Detroit techno, and it shows here in the sublime "Tunnel Vision," a cut that bursts at the seams with lush, bubbling synth work.

But it's his departures from the norm that may well constitute I:Cube's shining moments here. "Can You Deal With That?" featuring the Wu-Tang Clan's RZA is a unique slab of technofied, uptempo hip-hop. It's banging in spite of the Shaolin MC's mediocre vocal delivery. "La Vie En Communante" may well put house heads to sleep with a wistful dreaminess that recalls Air, but its appeal extends far beyond the dance floor, much like the rest of the album.

 
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