Monday, 15 July 2013


"ok cowboy"
Year:    2005
Country:    France
City:    Dijon
Artist:    Pascal Arbez
Label:    PIAS Recordings
Format:    CD, 2 x LP
Tracks:    13
Time:    60 min.
Genre:    electronic
Style:            Techno

The long-awaited debut LP from Frenchman Pascal Arbez includes three-fourths of the seismic electro/techno Poney EP, which sits beautifully alongside his less dancefloor-friendly, album-oriented material.

With the possible exception of a certain French house duo whose name we won't bring up quite just yet, it's difficult to think of another dance act whose career ascent has been as storybook as Pascal Arbez's. After toiling for years in relative obscurity under the aliases Dima (as good as the name suggests) and Hustler Pornstar (uh, ditto), the Frenchman didn't just draw blood with Vitalic's 2001 Poney EP, he lopped a few arteries. Seriously, it's hard to overstate the response to Poney; of its four tracks, three became high-tide dancefloor staples. Along with the dark, yawning electro of "Poney Part 1" and "Poney Part 2", there was the centerpiece "La Rock 01", still the reigning champion of songs that sound like paper shredders orgying in a wind tunnel.

While everyone from 2 Many DJs to Aphex Twin to Sven Väth was busy corking their sets with one (or two, or three...) tracks from Poney, Arbez was studiously lifting a few PR moves from his contemporaries, first by playing up his anonymity and later by concocting an elaborate backstory that involved a Ukrainian upbringing, animal fur trading, male prostitution, and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Despite being offered enough shows to keep him busy until the fall of the Wailing Wall, Arbez chose his live engagements carefully. He applied a similar selectivity to his output, issuing only a few 12"'s and a handful of choice remixes over the next few years.

That lull didn't do much to temper the weighty expectations placed on his full-length debut-- Lord knows, the Human After All-shaped hole in a lot of people's springtime playlists probably didn't help either. Happily, I can't imagine anyone who cared for Vitalic's earlier material being disappointed with OK Cowboy. Part of that is because Poney is built into this record's DNA-- rather than feeling like cursory inclusions, the EP's big three tracks sit beautifully alongside Arbez's less dancefloor-friendly, album-oriented material. The result is a much more complete and crafted record than you'd expect from an artist renowned for his killer singles.
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