The very idea of Laurent Garnier firing forth one of his jazzy techno epics on Innervisions just feels so utterly right, the narrative so enticing. First of all there's that backstory, which may already seem like you've heard it a hundred times: Garnier played Panorama Bar with Dixon and played this record, whereupon the Innervisions boss signed it on the spot. In celebration, he then recorded another special "Panoramix" to put on the B. Six weeks later, it arrives triumphantly. Even the title, Back to My Roots, seems perfect for a 2008 post-minimal scene wrestling with a fetish for all things purist and retro. The truth is that this record could only be more romantic if Garnier proposed to a girlfriend via the sleevenotes.
And so you desperately want the music to be both reverent and mindblowing, to slot into now but grab you like ‘Dangerous Drive’ or ‘Man With The Red Face’ or ‘Sound of the Big Babou’ did. What a shame then that it doesn't. This isn't an awful record, but it's a terribly bloated one. There's certainly a bombast to ‘Back to My Roots’, but it's a stadium bombast. The more kitchen sinks Garnier flings into this sprawling opus, the more it feels like the over-complicated return of a behemoth, like a mini ‘Chinese Democracy’. As for the music itself, it sounds like some far flung cosmic breakbeat. In places it's even like the Chemical Brothers if they had goatees and berets instead of the hoodies, some weird funk-laden macho mess. Is this what Justice would sound like if they liked jazz?
On the flip the Panoramix is closer to Garnier's traditional bassline techno, and if you want a weak nicotine patch for ‘Man With The Red Face’ then perhaps this is for you. But once again it's overcomplicated, divorced from club culture, and very difficult to imagine dancing to.
Overall this feels like some form of what used to be called prog or tribal, coupled with a stern and starched lesson in musicality. Granted few artists would attempt such a sprawling opus, but intention is one thing, execution another.