Having spent a significantly large chunk of 2016 locked in the studio, Parisian producer Djebali starts the new year with the release of his highly anticipated debut LP, 5.
Frequently celebrated as one of the key figures of the French house music scene, it comes as something of a surprise that this is his first endeavour into album territory, especially when taking into consideration his notable back catalogue.
Significantly, the title 5 not only marks the number of years that have passed since his self-titled label was conceived—which he’s using to release the album—but also represents the months it took to complete the package.
The result is a well-rounded exploration of dance floor-focused productions, with deep and sultry grooves at its core. Crucially, it’s a body of music that’s as cohesive as it is subtle, unifying elements of classic house with contemporary arrangements that explore the deeper elements of the genre, often with excellent results.
The LP begins with a soothing exploration of synth work that exhibits the Parisian’s knack for creating hazy, dreamlike soundscapes, which significantly progresses later in the project, with “Heartgroover” picking up directly where “Heartbeat” left off.
Following the intro’s serene tone, the energy swiftly shifts with the supremely groovy “Flamingo” moving things into peak-time club territory. From there it’s non-stop grooving, with “Nineties Playground” taking us on a deep trek into the playground in Djebali’s mind, “Mister Bastard” hypnotising us with its persistent allure and the aforementioned “Heartgroover” delivering just the kind of sensual atmospherics we’ve come to expect from the Frenchman.
Having ebbed and flowed through deep atmospherics and sumptuous basslines, there’s a break in proceedings with “The Other Night”, which features a spoken-word sample over a chilled, virtually beatless instrumental. And “God’s Dream” demonstrates Djebali’s ability to build layers of funk, incorporating distinct acid-focused sounds that serve to stamp his identity on proceedings.
“Ideal Dawn”, “Passion” and “Seven Blessings” are imbued with the same level of energy and use of pads, bleeps, bass and percussion that encompasses everything Djebali is about. The the twelfth and final track, a collaboration with good friend John Dimas called “Suzaku”, sees the project draw to a low-slung, downtempo finale that explores the producer’s earliest hip-hop influences.
Taking the listener on an invigorating and enlightening journey, this album is a wonderful exploration into the world of Djebali, a maestro who has injected all of his energy, dynamism and experience into an album that was well worth the wait.