Parlez-vous techno? While Thomas Bangalter, who celebrates his birthday today (3rd Jan) might be better known as one half of Daft Punk, back in the mid-90s he founded Roulé Records, to provide an avenue for his more ‘experimental’ musical outpourings.
The label would go on to play host to megahits such as Stardust’s Music Sounds Better With You (a collaboration between Bangalter, Alain ‘Braxe’ Quême and Benjamin ‘Diamond’ Cohen) and the Bangalter/DJ Falcon collaboration So Much Love To Give, but for this week’s Throwback Thursday, we go right back to the label’s debut EP.
Trax On The Rocks, released in 1995, is perhaps better known for the distinctly Daft Punk-esque Outrun on the B-side, but for us the standout track is the stripped back What To Do, which closes side A – it’s a simple, cut up lyric over some distorted 909 breakbeats that sounds like it could have been produced in an hour… and probably was.
Despite its lack of complexity, it’s four and a half minutes of defiance against convention, and is devastating on a monster soundsystem – I have fond memories of DJ Bone mixing it in over some killer techno at I Love Techno 2005, for example.
That Bangalter had just turned 20 when the record was released hinted at a promising future for the Paris-born producer, and within less than a year of Trax On The Rocks’ release, Daft Punk’s breakthrough single Da Funk was tearing up dance floors around the world.
Daft Punk’s more recent work has been a somewhat elaborate affair, bringing in artists such as Chic’s Nile Rodgers and Pharrell Williams to give the band a polished, disco edge.
But if they ever decide to ditch the robot masks and go back to basics, What To Do could be a good place from which to develop a template.
[Kudos to Steve Sweet for the YouTube upload]