Music Reviews

Pepe Deluxe

Super Sound

Emperor Norton

What is Big Beat? The sonic movement figureheaded by The Chemical Brothers some years ago lives up to its description, building gigantic irresistible structures of rhythm from catchy samples and juxtaposed elements. Pepe Deluxe (from Finland, it would seem) mix irresistible samples and Ginsu scratching (courtesy of four-time DMC winner DJ Slow) into a hypnotic baker’s dozen of tracks. “Everybody Pass Me By” takes a loose slide guitar blues riff and manages to wrap the unwieldly bugger around an unyielding beat – but everything still works together. “Maddaddy” is short – a couple of minutes at best – but in that short span, it goes from a smouldering start to a full on soulfunk conflagration, all while some hep characters tells you where to buy the best records (300 Prospect Avenue is the spot).

But there is another side. Pepe Deluxe can often be dark, taking the midnight rain-slick sound pioneered by Portishead and whapping it a good one across the butt, as can be heard on tracks like “LaFemme,” with its sultry washes of keyboard and slowly pulsating electric piano.

And there is yet another side. “Tour de Force” alternates between a menacing jungle beat from a Las Vegas showfloor with some sunny Jamaican vibrations. “Where Is Mr. Fabulous?” has a whomping jazz bass and a call-and-response riff between organ and whistler that sounds perfect for strolling down a suburban side street, a street that leads straight to “Big Muff,” a place where the party is too big for the cops to even consider breaking up.

This is music that takes your feet and shakes them like a terrier with a chew toy. It’s big, full of beat, and you can’t help yourself. Shake up your next gathering with Super Sound.

Emperor Norton Records, 102 Robinson Street, Los Angeles, CA 90026

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