French techno producer Pascal Arbez laboured a good few years in relative obscurity under the guises of Dima and Hustler Pornstar before releasing his Poney EP as Vitalic.
The release got him instantly hailed as a new electro-techno messiah, with three of the four cuts from the EP - 'La Rock 01' and the two Poney tracks, Parts 1 and 2 - went on to become huge anthems, drooled upon by a diverse range of major players like 2 Many DJs, Aphex Twin and Sven Vath.
It's taken the best part of four years for Arbez to follow up on his mega-success, but after hearing Ok Cowboy you realize that waiting isn't perhaps such a bad thing after all.
The ebullient spirit that infused the EP is highly prevalent throughout the new album. The big three tunes mentioned are featured but rather than sticking out like sore anthems, they are neatly sutured into the rest of the rugged and variegated landscape.
They are provided back up by more beefy salvos constructed from acidic, guitar-heavy workouts, that boast no-nonsense behemoth beats and, more often than not, a growing sense of mild insanity.
In particular the stuttering electro freakout of "My Friend Dario", the synthesized wail of "No Fun" and the serious urgency of "Newman" and "Repair Machines" come across as intensely dense yet not claustrophobic.
That's down to some studio ingenuity on Arbez's part, most notably his refusal to use samples, which allows for a plethora of possibilities in terms of utilizing synthesizers for impeccable emulations of drums, guitars and even accordions. It also creates the raw, old-school flavour that permeates every second of the project.
The Dionysian, sweat-drenched excesses of the album are tempered not by insipid dreamscapes but by moments of intriguing experimentation. Some of these - "U and I" for example sounds a little unfinished, but the jovial skip of "Wooo" and "The Past", the fairground hip hop of "Trahison" and the militaristic tattoo of closer "Valletta Fanfares" are all compelling in their own ways.
One of the best two fingered salutes so far to the myopic prophets of dance music's doom, Ok Cowboy is vibrant, visceral and vital in a way that Daft Punk and other established dancefloor luminaries can no longer manage. --Jack Smith
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