Paris Club Music Volume 1 is split between new material and the best of the label's initial run. The highlights disc opens with the two French Fries tracks that started it all. Still among the best of its catalogue, "Champagne" and "Hugz" are halfway between Dance Mania and Trax, with hard-snapping snares and formidable low-end. Sprinkle in the repetitive tics and flamboyant vocal samples of ballroom ("I can give you money for my champagne, bitch") and you've got yourself a winning formula.
Not everyone is as confrontational as Mr. Fries; Bambounou's irrepressible "Night" dresses up the LFO blasts in sampled strings and mismatched diva samples, while Ministre X's "Calling Me" is basically a fat-bottomed pop song. It's "Slab" from Chaos In The CBD that best typifies the the collective's sound, with its pitched-down vocals, dulcet repetition and generally delirious mood.
By comparison, the new material hits with militaristic force. The disc begins with a VIP mix of the crew's biggest hit yet, the ballroom pastiche of "Yo Vogue," which strips the already bare track to the white of its bones. The Town's "Dice" makes commands like "rub on my tits" and "squeeze on my ass" sound apocalyptic, with percussion so inflated with reverb that every cowbell feels like a death knell. Even Manaré's "Riddle," the most straightforward tune here, is stripped down to razor thin dimensions so it's more cutting than slamming. Jean Nipon's excellent "Coming At You" throws grime into the equation with honking horn stabs.
These Paris scenesters don't live in a vacuum—from Salva to Dirtybird to Hessle Audio, there are plenty of other artists striking a similar chord. But there's something about the way that they work in ideas from ballroom, Miami bass and ghetto tech that feels different. Grey and ominous like techno, slinky like house and volatile like modern bass music—whether or not you consider it the sound of Paris, it's an aesthetic that's all their own.