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Critiques CD: Nouveau Palais | Avant Gang


Former Montrealer and now Vancouver-based producer Prison Garde (previously of Sixtoo, Speakerbruiser Rob and Megasoid fame) has long collaborated with the city’s rising stars of reinvented rhythms, namely avant-hop globetrotter Lunice and emotive electro crooner ANGO. Years after their mythical Turbocrunk sets, they reconvened under the Nouveau Palais moniker and let the buzz build as they readied their debut EP. Finally, in late May, they released the Avant Gang EP free of charge, leading up to their North American debut performance at MUTEK. Thankfully, the footwork-heavy tracks more than make up for a frankly disappointing live set at the SAT. Avant Gang is a six-song, five-remix affair that leans heavily on their inspired meldings of house, UK funky and R&B. Although Prison Garde and Lunice’s hip hop credentials are put to use here (most notably on “HARDLYTRY”), Nouveau Palais clearly aims to conquer the dancefloor with more than mere head nods and fist bumps. Their six original tracks are boldly dramatic and always engaging: high tempos, broken beats, bouncy basslines. Standouts include opener “Drama” with its moody synths and rousing house, and fiery closer “Over You” with guest singer Bobbi Kay’s understated, melancholy coos layered atop funky grooves. The remixes (save for Ambulance’s exquisite digestif – a shimmery, chilled house rendition of “Drama”) feel like filler here; NP could easily have done without them. Avant Gang’s overall strength, as with each of its members’ individual output, is that its cuts are forward-looking while resolutely accessible, aimed at moving hearts and minds but always rooted in the dancefloor. That’s a winning clubland philosophy.