House, techno, disco, boogie. As musical currency, these formats generally stretch furthest on the dancefloor—at least with DJs, the club overseers with the deepest pockets of them all. Impressively, Parisian producer Nicholas Chaix (a.k.a. I:Cube) exists in all of these spheres simultaneously. He's also acutely aware of the nuance required to translate his music for casual listening.
Too often in the world of electronic music, LPs get weighed down by the superfluous minutes of slow builds and elongated breakdowns meant specifically for DJs at the height of a blend. For his fifth full-length (his first in five years), Chaix has confronted this issue head on. With "M" Megamix, he's married the concepts of album and DJ set, expertly arranging and mixing 24 tracks so diverse in nature that they do nothing if not live up the name of the label he's called home since 1996.
Chaix is not a revolutionary for formatting his latest effort this way, but he's still chosen the road less traveled and should be recognized for that. When it comes to dance beats, a DJ mix is a better listening experience than your typical long-player. But, given its nature, it does mean that some tracks don't get their full due, only seeing airtime for a minute or two. That said, Chaix does make sure that the right cuts are given the chance to shine, including the cosmic massage of "Le Rocher Aux Singes" and the record's first true high point, "Transpiration," which sounds like a jacking pledge of allegiance to classic Chicago and Detroit.
Other tracks come off as mere teases. "Cadence III" is an Italo nugget that comes and goes too soon. The minimal pads and snare taps of "N'Dololo X M" serve more as an airy interlude than a stand-alone song. Every DJ needs his tools, and with "M" Megamix, Chaix is clever enough to craft his own. These morsels can leave you aching for a more substantial serving, but they do serve the bigger purpose of propelling the album through its many movements. Like any number of his Parisian brethren, Chaix has always been as indebted to early house and techno from the Midwest as he has disco, hip-hop breaks, dub, and Daniele Baldelli's cosmic Italo; "M" Megamix finds him remaining resolute in his conviction to put his stamp on each.
The variety here is both a boon and a curse for I:Cube. One minute we're treated to the dubby, deep house of "Jah Menta," while the next brings the Afro techno of "Magnetic Mambo." All of it culminates brilliantly with the Faustian Krautrock drive and demonic chanting of "Lucifer en Discotheque." Not every track is this enjoyable. The choice to mimic a DJ set meant including certain half-complete thoughts that could have been left in the studio had Chaix approached this like a traditional album. But like the best mixtapes—those ones that you could pop in the deck and instinctually fast forward or rewind to their precise sweet spots—"M" Megamix's finest moments are worth returning to.