SebastiAn - Total
Record Label: Ed Banger
Release Date: May 31, 2011
Since joining the iconic French-house label Ed Banger in 2005, SebastiAn has managed to fly somewhat under the radar for even the most devoted electronic fans. His frequent referral as the "black sheep" of the Ed Banger family - coupled with only a handful of releases and lack of a gimmick (see label mates Justice for an example) - has resulted in SebastiAn coasting through these past six years without garnering much attention from the media until now.
With Total, his full-length debut, SebastiAn has produced a selection (a vast selection, at that) of tracks that truly encapsulates the past, present and future sounds of electro.
The album starts off somewhat irrelevant with "Hudson River," a short introduction to the album that neither acts as a good opener nor as lead into the second track. SebastiAn's intention with this album becomes apparent after the first listen of the second track: the charming, bass-heavy and Prince-influenced "Love in Motion" (which features guest vocals from Mayer Hawthorne). SebastiAn intends to shy away from what people expected from this album and differentiated his sound as much as possible.
This trend continues on the album's first single, "Embody." Distorted vocals, heavy bass lines and cut-up synths require the listener to dance stylishly, not just fist-pump (as is the common stigma with electronic music these days). Listeners familiar with SebastiAn will notice the rather old "Ross Ross Ross," which the SebastiAn has reedited and given a 2011 makeover, in the track list. It still remains one of his most popular dance floor destroyers.
Tracks like the bouncy "Kindercut" and bound-to-see-a-dubstep-remix-at-some-point "Jack Wire" are destined to be fan favorites; they prove to be two of the finer moments of Total.
The midway point of the album sees another vocal collaboration. It partners SebastiAn with M.I.A, urging you to "C.T.F.O": Chill the fuck out. However, with a beat this downright dirty, the statement is seemingly impossible.
The latter half of Total continues with the theme of the album: upbeat funk-tinged electro followed by signature SebastiAn dance floor electro straight out of the 2006 era. Tracks like "Prime" and "Yes" are sure to take Ed Banger fans back to the first time they heard a SebastiAn track drop on a dance floor.
Nevertheless, it is the oddness of "Tetra" that lets down briefly, and when listening, one can't help but wonder if he has strayed too far down the experimental path. This doubt is short-lived, however, as the 2008-released "Motor" revs into action next; it's impossible for the listener to keep his/her head still for 4 minutes.
The album closes with another previously released track, "Doggg," showcasing chugging guitars and chopped up screamo vocals; not exactly fitting for an album closer, which is exactly what SebastiAn intended to do.
At 22 tracks, Total does indeed have its fair selection of fillers. Eight interludes and three previously released tracks will overshadow the fact that there are 10 fantastic, and one not-so-fantastic, songs on this album. It begs the question of whether or not SebastiAn could have slightly improved the flow and feel of the album; this is what makes Total a very good album instead of a great one.
For those eagerly anticipating the new Justice album, I suggest checking out Total in the meantime, and familiarize yourself with the sound of true electro in 2011.