Vitalic's third album Rave Age does not mess around. The French producer has made a beast of a record that takes the laser-guided disco for which he's known to an altogether wilder but no less euphoric place. This is a savage and carefree statement from a dancefloor visionary who's spent the last decade redefining electronic music in his own particular fashion and has decided, as only he can, to keep things simple.
"With this album I really wanted to play the songs live," says Vitalic Arbez-Nicolas from his home in Dijon. "The music on my last album Flashmob was relaxed and it was difficult to work the tracks into the live set. This time I was really thinking about the show. I was not thinking about the press or hipsters. I make my stuff and the point is to make some funny stuff and to play it live - voila."
This sounds like fighting talk from Vitalic, but having made his name with two exquisitely poised sets of romantic disco and searing techno, 2005's OK Cowboy and 2009's Flashmob, Rave Age finds the 36-year-old letting his hair down, so to speak, and composing tracks that came to him quickly, naturally, under no pressure. Written with the Mediterranean in mind in his home studio during the first half of 2012 and then mixed in Paris, Rave Age contains some of Vitalic's most direct and powerful tracks: “Stamina”, “No More Sleep” and “Lucky Star” are rubberised rave numbers primed for the club. The irresistible energy that whizzes through Rave Age can in part be attributed to Vitalic's DJing, which he took up in 2009. "I've learnt what is effective when you play and what entertains me when I play," he says. "This album is what I want to play when I DJ."
If anything, this is Vitalic's pop record, a notion first put to him by the album's mix engineer Stephane Alf' Briat, the well-known Paris technician behind key records by Phoenix, Air and Jackson and His Computer Band. "For my first album I used a fake voice from my synthesisers and on the second I just used one singer, Linda Lamb. This time it was different," says Vitalic. "At some point in the studio the sound engineer told me: ’Hey, your stuff is almost pop because there is a voice in every song’. This wasn't conscious but I did want to change from the two other albums."
You need only hear his sparkling remixes for Bjork, Sexy Sushi, Heartbreak or Amadou & Mariam to appreciate Vitalic's love for the possibilities of the pop song, and here, working with a selection of vocalists for the first time, he forges his own kind of effervescent power-pop. “Next I'm Ready” and the tremendous “Fade Away” feature the vocals of Joe Reeves, one-time singer for defunct British synth-punks Shit Disco, whose overlooked debut Vitalic adored. In fact, Vitalic was a little worried “Fade Away” might be too pop for Rave Age, even though he's very happy with it. "In the beginning “Fade Away” was called “Dolce Vita” and had this cheesy Jean Michel Jarre melody. I sent it to Joe who is really quick and wrote and sang the words in a few hours. I like the way he writes lyrics as well as his English accent."
It all seems a world away from 2001 when Vitalic's debut, the four-song Poney EP', came out. Arguably the finest techno 12-inch of the last decade, the record's instant and enduring appeal saw Vitalic aligned with Daft Punk and Aphex Twin as a singular producer capable of shaping the future of electronic music. Over the following years, armed with the blistering euphoria of La Rock 01' and You Prefer Cocaine', he blazed through clubland like the Wagner of rave - the flying V - a fearless metal-disco warrior slaying scores of ravers across Europe with his searing live show.
Most Vitalic fans will have caught Vitalic's formidable V Mirror live show which toured the globe for two years. Flanked by two huge sheets of electronic mirrored panels, Vitalic performed for countless thousands at festivals and huge venues around the world, travelling with a small team in a tour bus like a rock band. Bonding on the road proved a profound experience for Vitalic. "Touring with a team is really unique," he says. "To share the experience of the tour bus, of the feeling you have before getting onstage and afterwards, is like multiplying all the sensations of playing live." To stage Rave Age, Vitalic plans to take things further by introducing a live drummer and a keyboard player to the mix, in addition to the screens. "I want the feeling of a group," he says.
When he isn't in the studio, Vitalic spends a lot of time in the kitchen. "At some point I was thinking about opening a restaurant in Spain" he says with a straight face, "but at the moment I just can't help myself from making music and having plans and I am excited about making a really cool show for the next tour'.