French house musician and producer Para One’s bluntly titled Club earns its name because most of the tracks are club-themed remixes of other Para One tracks. Not knowing any of his prior work, I have no frame of reference for how individual tracks compare against their original versions but as it stands Club is a fairly flawed house album, but not without its merits.
Opening track Lean on Me starts with some sweet-sounding synthesisers and actually features a decent melody, standing out even before the drums arrive. There are some heavily digitized vocals that lend the track some texture but they don’t feel essential (a flaw that extends to most of the vocals on this album). Vibrations/Poisoned Apples (Interlude) also continues the previous track’s momentum but works just fine regardless of what few vocals it features (especially the Poisoned Apples half with its forceful use of bass).
You Too is the only completely original track on this release and it stands out from the remixes in a good way. The heavily altered female vocals swirl around a catchy piano hook while the more obviously synthesized music is relegated to the background (and the song actually works better for it).
Of course, there are moments that make me keenly aware of how padded this album can feel. Wake Me Up (Remix) is the fifth track on this album and every time I reach that point on the album it makes me wonder how much longer there is to go (though it’s not horrible, just aggressively uninteresting).
Another example of Club‘s hit-and-miss nature is its sporadic use of samples. Albatros (Club Mix) samples the speech from the beginning of Public Enemy’s Fight the Power in a break between low-pitched melodies, though its relevance to the track is debatable and thus it feels like a very forced homage to an old-school classic. Conversely, Sigmund (Bootleg) uses dialogue from David Lynch’s surrealist psychodrama Lost Highway in a way that gels with the unsettling electro music on offer.
The back half of Club tends towards a darker vibe thanks to a reliance on heavy bass that actually works on most of these tracks. Mother (Dead Mix) has distorted vocals that are nigh incomprehensible but still sound cool, while Animal Style (Club Edit) features an impressive if unnerving melody. The more I listen to Compute the more I think it might actually be one of the better tracks on the album. Closing track When the Night (Acid Mix) has the most distinctive vocals (though the lyrics’ focus on clubbing doesn’t feel especially interesting) and is not a bad way to end the album.
A fair few of the songs on Club would be welcome additions to any house DJ’s current playlist, but the album as a whole does stretch Para One’s musical ability to its limits and then some. Ironically, the tracks that sound like deliberate attempts to make party-hearty club jams are more likely to end up being of lesser quality than the moodier deep cuts (though You Too is a notable exception in this regard). Ultimately, Club is a decent release but a release that is nonetheless seriously hampered by the inconsistent quality of its individual tracks, several of which could have been cut without consequence.