Observations: French synth star Pascal Arbez produces album featuring Brigitte the virtual voice
Friday 13 November 2009
Clasping an espresso at his management's London offices, the French synth star Pascal Arbez, better known to his acolytes as Vitalic (pronounced "vee-tal-ique"), shakes his head despondently. "All the time I am told that dance music is in danger, or even that it is dead," he says. "It's stupid. All you need to do is check the internet or go to a club or a festival and you can see how alive it is," he sighs. "But attitudes are beginning to change. Dance music has become stronger definitely. La Roux play electronic music and look what they have achieved. And I hear [the Dutch disc jockey] Tiësto has more fans than Madonna."
Arbez's career certainly backs the idea. Over the last ten years he has performed to 2,000-strong audiences from Brazil to Japan, and released records that have been embraced by electro-heads, pop-lovers and diehard rockers alike. His first full-length album, OK Cowboy, released in 2005, popped up on many critics end-of-year lists, since when he has been requisitioned to remix everyone from Björk to Basement Jaxx. He has been called a "metal disco warrior" and "the Wagner of rave", though, asked how he would describe his music, he grins and says: "Disco with balls!"
It's an apt enough description of Arbez's latest album, Flashmob, which channels the electro-prog wizardry of Jean Michel Jarre, the cool camp of Giorgio Moroder and the digital funk of Daft Punk, and sets them against a wall of seriously sweaty techno. Recorded at his home studio in the countryside a few miles outside of Dijon, the album was composed entirely on synthesisers. This even extends to synthesised vocals. "I had this fantasy to have this female singer that didn't exist, and so I created Brigitte," he smiles. "People don't always know whether she's real or not. I'm just trying to do something new. Plus, she's cheap and she always does what I ask."
Single 'Poison Lips' and album 'Flashmob' are out now on [PIAS]. Vitalic plays Matter at London's O2 on 28 November
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