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LABEL: Catchy Tunes RELEASE DATE: December 6, 2006 GENRE: Euro House, Tech House
// review by Jeff

I got the insider beep!

Pakito: the moniker taken by Julien Ranouil, a French man with not only a mission, but also with only one trademark sound that is used in practically every song on his album, "Video". His classic 80s-style synth honking pretty much defines his raving spirit and that of his album as well. Yet while the album itself is dance-floor friendly and infectious enough to make a crowd out their hands in the air, it does get stale at times when the songs start to sound too much like each other and many of the album's melodies end up becoming practically indistinguishable from each other (with a few stand-out exceptions, of course).

After the introductory Start Me, which begins with the typical Pakito horn-like honking and also serves as the intro to the next song, we are treated to Pakito's first hit, Living On Video, yet another take on the Trans-X song from as far back as 1981. Countless cover versions have been made of this classic dance track, and yet none of them offer much in the sense of variety. Besides the occasional shout of "Heyyyy... WAR!", nothing sets this tune apart from any other version in the past (including the cover by Lazard, released to the public in the same general time frame). This song hit #1 on several charts, but the only distinguishing feature here to prove it's Pakito over any other generic artist is his use of the aforementioned beeping/honking (and often monotonal) noise. This brings no joy.

The next song, You Wanna Rock is more impressive than the previous track, perhaps owing such success to the fact that it's an original track. The beeping is softer here but still constantly noticeable, and in the main melody, it is "squeaked" (that is, taken to a much higher pitch rather quickly -- it's difficult to describe, but you've heard this technique before, I'll bet). The chopped vocals in the back add a little flavour to the song, but already, Pakito's monotone honking style is beginning to set in. Yet it is the following song, Moving On Stereo, that led me to this album. Although it bears the simplicity of "Living On Video", it is much more appealing to the ears and to the feet for some unknown enchanting reason. The female lyrics "I got the insider beat / I am inside of me" never hurt either. After a truly jivin' chorus (although still simplistic and honking nevertheless), a second climax is reached where the track is pitched upward a bit. It is designed solely for the dancefloor, and thus it succeeds admirably as nothing fancy or intricate, just down to earth booty-shakin' pleasure. "Moving On Stereo" was the second single from this album, and it also fared well on some European charts.

If it's a slightly more Arabian style you seek, Funky Groove may be your cup of tea. With a slightly classical vibe to it, the beeping leads us into a more saw synth-based Eastern melody, later emphasized by the use of sitar (or synthesized sitar, perhaps). Again, the melody is simple and repetitive, but as just a method of delivering ear funk for the clubs, this may just be what the boogie doctor ordered. By A Night To Remember, however, the listener may soon become fatigued by the fact that every song starts out with that same honking synth on one note. The only saving grace of this track is the fact that the melody itself is played out via the heavily vocoded vocals. The words "a night to remember" are repeated, each word's tone altered to reflect the melody. It's actually a very pleasant listen.

Staleness then hits you like a brick as the sordidly bland Are U Ready? hits the airwaves. Although this song was later cleaned up and revised immensely for a single release, the album version is far inferior and has no enticing or unique features to it. The chopped vocals are used to the maximum effect, but they give off a nasty German cornball dance music vibe. The melody is dry as well, and thus this could be a skipped track, unless you're in the mood for a rough female voice shouting "C'mon!!!" which appears a few times in this song and sounds wicked. Blue Moon City starts us off with a funky beat but eventually drags in that beeping sound again. I grow tired of that! Again, there is nothing dividing this tune from the rest, sounding more like a rip-off of earlier tracks with a different melody. This is the way Pakito wants to play? Fine...

I Do It Again tries to be a little different, and for the first minute, that beeping/honking business is nowhere to be found, causing the song to sound more like a typical dance track. But lo and behold, that honking returns, although somewhat grittier this time. The track eventually morphs into the beep-free refrain, and as far as euro-dance tracks go, this one is pretty standard. However, it gets points for not having the beeping in the chorus. Around the 3:30 mark, though, it pulls the almighty "let's slow down the track a bit for some extra smooth funk" routine, which actually works well enough and will get more toes going on the club floor. The next track, Make Love, follows a similar pattern as "Blue Moon City", but with a vocoded voice saying "I wanna make love..." Beeping is there, as is a cheap throwaway melody. We must move on in hopes of better things. Online Alert tries a little harder to bring a better chorus to the table, and it succeeds somewhat, but it still sits well within the mold of "Blue Moon City".

The last 'official' track of the album is My Favorite Club, and it goes out as perhaps the only track on the album NOT to employ the beeping noise, instead favouring a deeper gritty synth instead. Offering some electro amusement is this song's intent, and it succeeds well enough. It wouldn't stand out too much in the club amongst the wide variety of other electro offerings, but it is more than a breath of fresh air among this album of consistently re-used ideas. Plus a female voice (presumably created by a computer) thanks all the DJs out there! You are welcome, Pakito. Then she says to "dance, drink, and f**k". Thanks for the advice, sailor. The album ends off with a different mix of Living On Video, describes as "Noot's Vocal Mix". It's not that much different instrumentally from the other version featured on this album, except that there are some diva-style female vocals pasted on it... and it's about a minute longer. *shrugs*

Pakito's first album outing proves one thing and one thing only: he has mastered the art of honking synths. Sadly, that formula quickly grows old, and it is apparent that if this is all that he has to offer in future releases, he may find prosperity in the music business difficult to achieve. Frankly, by the end of "Video", his style already sounds overused. Imagine a second album just like this one. People will still buy it, but it will be a creative wasteland.


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