I:Cube: "M" Megamix
Versatile Records

“M” Megamix, the fifth solo album from Nicolas Chaix (aka I:Cube), is a bit of an oddity. Neither conventional artist album, mixtape, or live recording, it's in some way all three at once. Chaix, you see, decided to assemble twenty-four pieces—some mere seconds long, others more fully developed—into a fifty-six-minute set but apparently did so by weaving them together in an off-the-cuff, one-way take and without any sequencing preparation. That's a good thing in one sense as the result captures the energy and on-the-fly feel of an inspired DJ set; it's a bad thing, on the other hand, when changes occur so abruptly and rapidly that just as one is settling into one track, another casts it aside.

The seventeen-second “Not Important” makes the channel-surfing approach literally evident at the outset before “Bajo Bajo” rolls out a creamy disco pulse replete with hand claps. But just as you're settling into the groove, a change-up occurs, and we're thrown into the wild synthesizer throwdown “Grotto.” Such abrupt transitions happen repeatedly, sometimes frustratingly so when Chaix abandons promising cuts just as they're getting underway.

Despite their fleeting appearance, certain tracks do register strongly. The trippy techno pulse rolling through “Transparent Sea Creatures” sounds like some imagined Hotflush-Stroboscopic Artefacts fusion, while the keyboard stabs in “Transpiration” slam with a breathless, house-fueled fever that won't be denied. “In Alpha” and “Le Rocher Aux Singes” exude a Balearic joyfulness that can't help but draw one in, and “Magnetic Mambo” likewise boasts a cheeky quality that makes its wild synth stabs seem almost Aphex-like. The hard club groove motoring through the floor-filling “Club Miniature” is delicious (if fleeting), and the penultimate “Lucifer En Discothèque” (the longest track, incidentally, at five minutes) rolls out an epic disco-fueled blaze.

Chaix covers ample stylistic ground in the mix, which amounts to a constant shuffle between house, techno, disco, synth-pop, Italo, and Balearic beats, so the mix is, at the very least, never boring (a few noisier interludes also ensure distraction doesn't set in). Aside from the caveat already mentioned, another downside to this otherwise always pleasurable mix is that by the end of it one comes away rather unclear as to I:Cube's sound. The rapid, channel-surfing character makes for an always stimulating ride, but it renders the artist himself more chameleonic than clearly defined.

July-August 2012