French Fries – Laquisha EP review

A producer who’s been slowly toiling away for a few years now and steadily impressing with every new release or mix, 2011 should be the year French Fries collects some well-earned props. From his earliest, Baltimore Club-inspired mixes and bootlegs, he’s added some serious swagger, crunk and UK funk to his tropical-house productions – his mix of Girl Unit’s seminal “I.R.L” for example, or his ghostly, future-R&B monster in collaboration with NZ’s Chaos In The CBD, “With You”.

It all comes together on the excellent Laquisha EP, with the title tune leading from the front with singer/MC Taiwan’s auto-tuned vocals nestling among hyped soca beats and a chorus akin to L-Vis 1990’s recent “Forever You”. For those offended by the sound of the human voice, Youngunz have thrown in a very useful dub. By contrast, “Charlotte” is a fruity Latin/tropical banger that relies on smart arrangements, tight and addictive piano loops and hybrid mainroom/funky beats to really make its point, but on a more aggy tip, the pounding bass punch of “Merel” is pure Joy O meets Bok Bok – a dreamy set of pads mixed with a distorted punch and some riotous hats and snares.

A perfect choice of remixers underlines the quality of this EP. Buraka Som Sistema’s J-Wow makes “Laquisha” his own by adding blurry, tear-stained organs and a crisp carnival beat to the tune, before expertly dropping the tempo down to around 100bpm for a rowdy, head-nodding moment of genius. Just as incredible is man-of-the-moment Canblaster’s electrifying version of “Charlotte” – almost a complete overhaul that truly needs to be heard to be believed. With brutally short and random samples spliced together in the manner of Akufen’s epic “Deck The House”, Canblaster lets fly with a huge jacked-up beat, hollow synth melodies and so much delicate, subtle and dynamic drum programming that at times it’s like hearing a master jazz drummer deliver an effortlessly perfect solo. Lil Silva is just the right man to tackle the funky beast that is “Merel” and he takes it on with aplomb – adding freaked-out organ stabs and some liquid distortion to the already chaotic kicks. While Canblaster’s mix is the highlight for us, there’s quality contained in every single second of this excellent EP.

Oliver Keens