C2C - Down the Road EP
Record Label: Casablanca
Release Date: Oct. 30, 2012
Leave it to the French to change the game.
C2C is a French quartet of turntablists (20Syl, Greem, Pfel, and Atom) who combine electro-pop, jazz, and hip hop into one arresting aural cocktail. Down the Road is their debut EP and is the end result of fourteen years of handwork. C2C began as four high school friends making music for the fun of it. What started off as fun grew into something titanic as the band won the DMC (Disco Mix Club) Championship, four times in a row and built a burgeoning worldwide fan base.
Down the Road leads off with the titular track and lead single, which kickstarts things from the get-go. Beginning with a blues guitar riff, the song quickly segues into turntable euphoria and shortly thereafter vocal and a harmonica kick in. From there, the song glides effortlessly and rather magnificently towards the finish. While in many ways it can be seen as jarring (harmonica, bass, blues guitar, handclaps, scratching and vocal samples mashed together), the song is nothing short of heavenly and is arguably one of 2012's most welcome surprises.
The splashy and synth-driven instrumental "Arcades," mines electro-rock terrain and does so with aplomb. Swerving, ducking and shuddering with nervous energy, there's also a palpable sense of hope and optimism in the passing seconds. Just before the two-minute mark the song pauses to collect itself and man if it isn't something. Like a running back gasping for breath on the sideline, there's a slight twinge of awe before the song swims its way to an inspiring and buoyant conclusion. Whereas "Down the Road," was catchy, commercial and crisp, "Arcades," feels more urban, nocturnal and nuanced.
Vocals return on "Someday," a hip-hop cut with a definitive R&B vibe and a nod again towards the commercial and accessible appeal of "Down the Road." In many ways, "Someday," might actually be more of a single than anything else on the EP. "The Beat" continues the hip-hop swagger of "Someday," but dives a bit deeper. There's a soulful sensuality at work here that makes the song both sexy and alluring." Penultimate cut "F.U.Y.A," is C2C at their finest. Lord knows what the acronym stands for, but hot damn if it isn't something. More downtempo than any of its predecessors, the song is both unique and emblematic. As much a song about texture as it is rhythm, it features a flute interlude (well, one hopes it's a flute) and the song moves in a symphonic direction that is both cinematic and saturnine. Sweeping and lush, it is truly a gorgeous artistic statement and a testament to the band's collective gifts.
Sometimes musicians just don't know when to stop, and "Down the Road - Irfane (Outlier) remix," is proof of that. While the intentions are certainly strong, the harsh reality is that the song feels both superfluous and self-indulgent. What makes this so disappointing is that the previous five songs were truly tremendous and the remix of "Down the Road," is just underwhelming. Ending an album on a sour note is by no stretch a deal-breaker, but it sure does leave one wanting a little more from the group's next effort.
That small gripe aside, Down the Road is otherworldly. astounding and awe-inspiring. If turntables can make music this pleasant, then perhaps the ascent of EDM really isn't the plague after all.