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Cassius

Biography

Cassius
Cassius are a French electronic music duo comprising Phillipe Zdar and Hubert Blanc-Francart (also known as Boombass). Together they remixed music of their contemporaries, Air and Daft Punk, before producing their own original works.

In January 1999, they released their first single "Cassius 1999" in the UK, which entered the chart at number seven. This was soon followed by their debut album, 1999, which had two more single released from it.

2002 saw their second album release, Au Rve. This featured the "empowered female disco" track "I'm A Woman," with Jocelyn Brown on vocals. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cassius_%28band%29 [Aug 2005]

Profile

Cassius are a French duo whose real names are Phillipe Zdar and Hubert Blanc-Francart. Together they have recorded as Boombass and La Funk Mob, releasing singles on the French label, Source. Neneh Cherry, Bjrk, Daft Punk, Air and Depeche Mode: they've done remixes for all of them.

Boombass grew up on the west side of Paris. His father was a top Parisian record producer, so it was natural Hubert would want to follow in his footsteps. "I started making music when I was 13," he shrugs. "But it was crap. So I quit" He got a job as a teaboy at a recording studio. By 1991 he had become a producer, was known as Boombass, and was working on MC Solaar's first album.

Philippe grew up in the Alps, where he still returns every year to ski ("but not snowboarding," he states emphatically.) he landed a job assisting Hubert's father and studied to become a studio engineer. He met Boombass in 1988. The pair were both obsessed with hip hop, disgracefully fashion conscious and both fascinated by cool American films. A ten year friendship was struck. Phillippe became Hubert's engineer and a couple of years later they were production partners.

The music they both started with was, of course, hip hop. Hip hop was both the catalyst that turned the teenage Hubert and Philippe away from elder brother stuff like The Police and the musical bond that brought them together. "We were into music before," they say, "but it wasn't our music. Hip hop was ours, it wasn't our parents' records."

In between producing three hugely successful French albums for MC Solaar, including the minor UK hit "Bouge De La", they developed the abstract, proto trip-hop grooves of La Funk Mob. By 1994 they were busy breaking boundaries and messing up heads with La Funk Mob's seminal hip hop/funk/electro/weirdo-freak-out EP "Ravers Suck Our Sound". Meanwhile Philippe had discovered a new obsession, House music, and the last piece of the Cassius puzzle was falling into place. "In 1992 I went to a rave" he enthuses, "from then on I loved techno."

Philippe had found an outlet for his new passion recording as Motorbass with Paris DJ Etienne de Crecy, the man behind 1997's Superdiscount. Together their Pansoul album remains one of the benchmarks of French house music's dynamic first wave, along with Daft Punk's Homework and Dimitri From Paris' Sacrebleu. Philippe talked Hubert into making a house track as a laugh. The result was "Foxy Lady" by L'Homme Qui Valait Trois Millards (The Six Million Dollar Man). The resultant slice of squelchy tech-disco became a standard for ever DJ from Andy Weatherall to Harvey. Hubert started to realize house music wasn't so bad after all. Cassius was born.

"What we really like," say Cassius, "is heavy bass. We listen to Daft Punk, DJ Sneak, Tuff Jam, Masters At Work, 2-step speed garage, DJ Premier, Timbaland, Drum 'n' Bass. You might not hear it on the record, but it's all there."

Cassius are both French dance music's missing link and it's old skool originators. The sound that combines the pop appeal, the heavyweight underground groove and the sheer brilliance of Air, Daft Punk and Dimitri. Their album 1999 is well-named - because that year will belong to Cassius. Believe it.

CDs

  • 1999 (1999) - Cassius [CD, Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    Two of the most revered producers and remixers of the French Invasion, Phillipe Zdar and Hubert Blanc-Francard more than have the skills to toss off crates of jiggy dance product if they so desired. But on their debut as Cassius, they've created something very different, a seamlessly postironic piece of abstract hip-house that's so off-kilter and fun, it feels subversive. Subtle gospel samples and a bluesy '30s trumpet bring on the opener, "Cassius 1999," then flip it into a flashy Latin electro super-digitale, and it's a good clue to where this whole thing wants to go. Thus we find plus-sized freestyle bass lines blithely slung under the vit-vit of old-school acid or a hard-house shuffle invaded both by toony synth arpeggios and liquid cobalt washes la Richard James. Somehow, Cassius make it all cook. 1999 more than lives up to its unreasonable advance hype--a gorgeous and surprisingly restrained showcase for two visionaires. --Steve Lafreniere for amazon.com

    Au Rve (2002) - Cassius

    Au Rve (2002) - Cassius [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

    The French are many things--superb chefs, extraordinary winemakers, great lovers--but they are not funky. That's not a musical slight. Think of Air, Serge Gainsbourg, and Edith Piaf--all artists of uncommon vision and voice. But funky? Mais non. Clearly, the members of Parisian electronica-hip-hop-house combo Cassius didn't get the memo. Combining trucked-in vocals, choppy breakbeats, random bloops and gurgles, jazzy hip-hop, and staccato synth, Cassius producers Philippe Zdar and Hubert Blanc-Francart create sparkly, boombastic disco nuggets that are at once rave-worthy and, yes, funky. Suggestions of Kraftwerk emerge in cuts like the robotic, vocoder-boosted "Telephone Love," while guests such as Ghostface Killah and Jocelyn Brown--who croons diva-style on the rocking, Saturday Night Fever-damaged "I'm A Woman"--add sizzle. But the steak is the unrelentingly butt-wiggling, studio-enhanced throwdowns stitched together by Cassius. Trs groovy. --Kim Hughes via Amazon.com

    Album Description
    Long considered one of the cornerstones of the French dance explosion alongside Daft Punk and Dimitri From Paris, the dynamic duo Philippe Zdar and Boombass return with a stunning album that captures the essence of their notorious DJ mix sets while further exploring their talent as producers. Astralwerks. 2002.

    see also: Cassius - music - France - 2002 - Jocelyn Brown - French house music

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