dimanche 14 août 2011

Gilles Luka's album "Ici Ensemble" is finally out, digitally only

It has been two years that Gilles Luka's second solo album Ici Ensemble is in the making, or may be ready to be released. Sony Music has finally chosen a release date and it was the 18th of July, but digitally only. I think the marketing team must have been waiting that one of the singles became a big hit to follow with the album but after On s'évite, then Reviens, Plus près (we can make it right) and recently before summer I can believe (jusqu'au bout), it was hightime to choose a date !
The 16 track digital album is full of other potential hits and doesn't sound too dissimilar to Gilles Luka's previous musical project, Ocean Drive, with some raps from Smartzee and additional female vocalists featured on some tracks, except it is him who is on the lead vocal, and even though the electro/dance music style has his voice filtered and autotuned a lot sometimes, there is no doubt the Toulon born french guy knows how to sing a tune.
The album starts with an intro (Ouverture) before the latest single opens up rightly. I can believe (jusqu'au bout) is a super catchy filtered house/electro dance song with a repetitive hit chorus mostly sung in english but like Ocean Drive's material was before, Gilles Luka solo songs always mix french and english. The song is very cheerful, with positive lyrics meaning everybody can make it if he believes in his dreams enough, and the video for the song shows a boxing girl who doesn't give up and finally wins the victory. Like the rest fo the album it seems, it is a collaboration on the writing and production side of Gilles Luka himself and french DJ Romain Curtis and Johnny Williams.
The title track of the album, Ici ensemble, meaning "Here together" is another winner, addictive as a drug, and it could easily become the next single for sure. Rapper Smartzee, who is a usual collaborator to Gilles, is here credited for a featuring even though he already appeared on the previous one as sport's commentator. It is followed by the single #3 that was released last year, a collaboration with russian singer Nyusha. It is the french/english version of Plus près (we can make it right) that is naturally featured, and not the russian version that Nyusha recorded for her native market. This song, with its male/female vocals, is the one that sounds the most like Ocean Drive and I still don't understand how Gilles' "solo" works hasn't met the same audience and success the Ocean Drive singles had, as the music is the same, the vocals are the same, and the visuals are sexier with sexy Gilles mixed with female dancers.
Fan de toi is next and, even though it is still a dance song, the tempo's slightly decreased for french lyrics and vocals that make the song a little melancholic, even more when the bridge comes because it strips the song down to just vocals and piano to end the song too quickly I feel... But Reviens' chorus follows in the intro of this second solo single that was released in time for summer of 2010. Once again, I can not say anything wrong about it, Reviens ("Come back") having an incredibly catchy beat and chorus. The bridge is a little less electro and it makes me remember that an acoustic version was available on the single release and I would have loved this version to have been included at the end of the album as a bonus.
Next song Japan starts all acoustic with piano chords and it doesn't evolve into nothing else but what I would call a big ballad, all sung in english, that may be a special dedication for the japanese people after last year's disaster. Gilles Luka's voice is natural here and I can't help thinking his voice is smooth and sexy. Some bits are nicely childish and this soft time is cute but not what I like and wait for from him. Je le ferais pour toi ("I will do it for you") thankfully brings the beat back and it makes the album get back into the dance vibe. It has a very vocoderized bridge and techno break with synthé loops and I think this one hasn't the potential for a single release this time, even thoug it is a very good album track. It seems it was a just a dance pause in the calm middle time of the album as next track, which features french R&B diva Nâdiya on additional vocals (they have already worked together on her albums before), J'avance ("I move forward"), is another ballad, all acoustic and piano led. I have to admit I'm starting to get bored, even more after Nâdiya has appeared singing a full chorus, while she has a long monologue of spoken words, but the song ends with it and J'y crois encore (not a cover version of Lara Fabian's hit, but a new composition meaning "I still believe") is a verty catchy comeback into electro/dance. The verses are more into mid-tempo but the chorus, like nearly all Gilles Luka's songs, is very catchy, and in the outro, evolves into the chorus line of Ocean Drive's hit Some people, as a reminder of who we're listening to.
Quand on le fait ("When we're doing it") is once again a slower tempo, still with nearly tribal beats, a song that mixes different inspirations and reminds me a lot of what Deep Forest used to release. At 3'05, it ends too soon and sounds like an interlude. Ailleurs (the pressure) is a very electro/acid dance track that musically would fit nicely a video game's soundtrack. The french/english vocals are autotuned again and the final result is catchy but maybe too gimmickly too. I can't help but like it though even though I doubt it can become a single, but when an album, even of 16 tracks, is released after 4 singles have been released from it, there cannot bee so many more singles extracted... Title track Ici ensemble is the sure next one. If there could be a sixth, then the choice will be harder. First solo single is next here with On s'évite ("We avoid each other") that finally sounds a lot more harder than the the rest because of techno loops all through the chorus. Like for Reviens, On s'évite got an acoustic version on its single package and I would have so loved to have it included at the end of the tracklisting. You may find it strange for me to want acoustic slow versions of dance hits when I usually don't like ballads and midtempos on dance albums, but it is true that when that recording version is used on a dance hit I know and like in its dance version, I really appreciate to re-discover the song, stripped down to itself alone, and these versions show a good dance song is good whichever version is chosen...
Ta chose ("Your thing") could be the sixth single as it is a nice new male/female duet (with unknown girl named Sab) with good beat, caychy melody and chorus and Sab adds nice soulful vocals to Gilles' sexy ones. This one is definitely a winning combinaison and I really find its placing near the end very strange, like a hidden gemm just before the end. Tu sais pourquoi ("You know why") is a summer ballad that got released as soundtrack to NRJ12 film L'été où tout a basculé last year but I didn't count it as a proper single release. And on this one, I have always found Gilles' vocals were too plaintive at bits, and I don't really like the bagpipes sounds neither...
After that last calm moment, the album ends with a remix of I can believe (jusqu'au bout) by Romain Curtis, the Axe boat remix named after the version used in a promotional video for deodorant Axe with Tony Parker. This version is even more clubby sounding than the original with a fat beat and hard techno sounds incorporated. It is still radio friendly at 3'27 and more remixes of that kind could have easily followed on the official tracklisting, like the Jay Didarko remix of Plus près (we can make it right) or the Ocean Drive remix of On s'évite. When (and not if, I hope!) this album will get a proper release on CD, I hope such bonuses (along acoustic versions) could get added as it would give an extra value to buy the CD to those who have aldready purchased the album digitally. It would be great to clear the rights to include Gilles Luka's recent collaboration single with Mathieu Bouthier too. Before you go may be a Mathieu Bouthier single with vocals by Gilles Luka but it would have fitted so well the Ici Ensemble tracklisting ! It is a crime not to have it included so this is a must-have for the CD too.
Now I hope my review and the following videos will make you want to have the album by yourself so here is the link to the iTunes download page : http://itunes.apple.com/fr/album/ici-ensemble/id448148309. Extra links in the comments too ;).

2 commentaires:

  1. to check the acoustic versions of Reviens & On s'évite:

  2. the CD has just been made available but there are no bonuses... only the same tracklisting, but it includes the lyrics though!