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Super Discount 3

Étienne de Crécy’s first Super Discount album – initially released as a series of EPs in 1996, then rounded up for album release  – was not just one of the very best of the French Touch albums to see the light of day, it was one of the Frenchest.

From the laid-back, almost loungey feel, to the grace and beauty of the production, which touched on disco, house and dub, to the way the music always seemed to take exactly how long it needed to make its point, be it 10 minutes (opener, Le Patron est Devenu Fou!), or nine seconds (Tout à 10 Balles), Super Discount radiated effortless Gallic élan.  It was house music, by and large, but took a magpie approach to its source material, sampling everything from jazzy piano, to dub bass lines to flamenco castanets, in a way that The Avalanches would later emulate.

So cool was Super Discount, in fact, that it didn’t seem to even be bothered who it was by. De Crécy was the ringleader, certainly, and two tracks are credited to him alone, but otherwhere there are tracks from Minos Pour Main Basse (Sur La Ville) and Mooloodjee (De Crécy pseudonyms); La Chatte Rouge (De Crécy and Philippe Zdar, then of Cassius, who had previously worked with De Crécy as Motorbass); Air (remixed by De Crécy); Alex Gopher; Mr. Learn (Laurent Collobert) and the enigmatic DJ Tall. In many of these tracks, Crécy may or may not have had a hand. But it somehow didn’t matter.

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dj-falconWhen DJ Falcon appeared as the seventh instalment of the Daft Punk Creators video series last year you can imagine a few eyebrows were raised.

Who, you might have wondered, was this amiable looking French bloke who followed in the footsteps on legends such as Giorgio Moroder and Nile Rodgers among the Daft Punk collaborators?

It’s a good question. Falcon – aka Stéphane Quême – introduces himself as the video as the childhood best friend of Pedro Winter, Daft Punk’s erstwhile manager. He’s also been the Daft Punk tour photographer, worked in Virgin Records A&R department and is cousin to Alan Braxe (Alain Quême).

But Falcon isn’t just the best connected man in French house. He’s also a producer of rare quality, with just five solo tracks to his name, a handful of remixes and three collaborations, each one bursting with brilliance.

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Rainy City logoManchester doesn’t just do things different musically, it also has a strong history of house music, staking a good claim to be the first place in Britain to have played the emerging house sound back in the 80s.

By the 1990s the Manchester house scene was led by Paper Records, which released records by the likes of Salt City Orchestra, Dirty Jesus and Crazy Penis, while label founders Miles Holloway and Elliot Eastwick DJed all over the city.

But if the Paper Records duo were Manchester’s Deep Dish – that’s to say, smooth, deep and successful – then Rainy City Music was perhaps its KDJ, bringing a rougher, live edge to underground house, which looked to the US, Brazil and Africa for inspiration and proved very different to other electronic music being made in Manchester at the time.

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220px-Othersidemercuryrev

When Mercury Rev’s fourth album, Deserter’s Songs, was released in September 1998 it felt like it had come from nowhere. That is a tribute to the album’s dark, otherworldy feel, of course, but also a testament to how far Mercury Rev had fallen since the release of their debut album Yerself Is Steam in 1991. In particular the band’s third album, See You On The Other Side had flopped on its release three years earlier.

“There was fairly little interest in people wanting to release a Mercury Rev record at that point,” Mercury Rev’s Jonathan Donahue told The Quietus of the period leading up to the release of Deserter’s Songs.

“We had left Columbia and See You On The Other Side had sold very little. It wasn’t enough to make anybody’s ears to perk up and for them to say ‘Oh I can’t wait for the next Mercury Rev record to hit the stores’. That wasn’t there, and that is the truth of it.”

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