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SMUGGLERS WAY

Alan Braxe, Fred Falke & Friends

The Upper Cuts - 2023 Edition

    If you want to understand how French producer Alan Braxe ended up making some of the most important house music records of the late 1990s and early 2000s, you need to understand his modus operandi. Everything must be simple, and everything must be sincere. You hear this repeatedly in Braxe’s music, from the golden emotional minimalism of Stardust’s “Music Sounds Better With You” to the perfectly uncluttered house music strut of “Intro.”

    The Upper Cuts, originally released in 2005, rounds up several of Braxe’s greatest hits, including “Music Sounds Better With You,” his classic remix of “At Night” by Shakedown and - most prominently - his work with Fred Falke, a bass player Braxe met on military service. Braxe and Falke’s union created some of the best house music records of the 2000s, with Falke’s slinky, melodious and very funky bass lines fitting like a glove around Braxe’s production know-how and ear for a melody.

    The revival of interest in the first wave of French Touch producers makes 2023 the perfect time to re-release The Upper Cuts, which has long been out of print. This newly reissued version adds seven bonus tracks. These include the classic Braxe / Falke production “Chrystal City,” which originally appeared on the “Rubicon” single; Braxe’s iconic remix of Britney Spears’ “Anticipating”; “You’ll Stay In My Heart,” a tear-jerking Braxe / Falke work that was never properly released; and two completely new tracks that show Braxe at his best.

    The Upper Cuts is a classic work of house music history that can still light up a dance floor; a work of sadness and joy; darkness and light; profundity and release. If you want to know how Braxe helped to create a new template for the French house sound in the early 2000s, right when French house needed it most; or how Braxe’s gorgeously clean productions and evocative synth melody provided a bridge between the first wave of French house and the Ed Banger / Justice / Kitsuné axis that followed; then your answer starts here.

    TRACK LISTING

    1. Alan Braxe & Fred Falke - Most Wanted
    2. The Paradise - In Love With You
    3. Stardust - Music Sounds Better With You
    4 Alan Braxe & Fred Falke - Intro
    5. Shakedown - At Night (Alan Braxe Remix)
    6. Alan Braxe & Fred Falke - Love Lost
    7. Alan Braxe & Fred Falke - Palladium
    8. Alan Braxe & Fred Falke - Arena
    9. Alan Braxe- & Fred Falke - Rubicon
    10. Alan Braxe & Fred Falke - Penthouse Serenade
    11. Alan Braxe & Fred Falke - Chrystal City
    12. Alan Braxe - Voices
    13. Britney Spears - Anticipating
    14. Alan Braxe - One More Chance (Feat. The Spimes) [Redux]
    15. Alan Braxe - True Love
    16. Alan Braxe - Never Coming Back (Feat. Annie) [12 “ Dub Version]
    17. Alan Braxe & Fred Falke - You'll Stay In My Heart (Instrumental)

    Braxe + Falcon

    Step By Step EP

      We know now that Smugglers Way is a new project by Alain and Stéphane Quême, or Alan Braxe and DJFalcon - the indisputable architects of the French Touch - the emotive house music conjured from looped samples with an inimitable Gallic flare that emerged from Paris in the mid-90s. Behind those two names you'll find the legendary acts of Stardust and Together - responsible for tracks like "Music Sounds Better With You", "So Much Love To Give" & "Together".

      Now, as the pair mature into middle age, they've slowed down the tempo on their inimitable formular. The release represents a sublime distillation of their shared musical essence, a revelatory realization and a compelling expansion only conceivable for them at this point in time.

      It opens with ‘Step By Step’, featuring Animal Collective's Panda Bear, an ecstatic celebration of Balearic joy, met with a French Touch production aesthetic; as if Braxe’s "In Love With You" had been baking on the playa for a quarter of a century. The track transcends anything in the catalogues of all three artists to something completely majestic, resplendent in its glowing, lush simplicity.

      "Love Me" gallops to a satisfactory mid-session pace; loopy vox and fat synths filtered to perfection keeping us in that French state of mind. "Creative Source" deploys a tasty soul hook across the sampler pads for an almost Andres-esque beatdown jam before we settle into the cosy and intimate Balearic-pop of "Elevation", featuring modern R&B star Sunni Colon. What a trip! 


      STAFF COMMENTS

      Matt says: Brought to you by the same French Touch innovators behind Stardust and Together; it sees the formula applied to more downbeat and Balearic moods that are simply divine. Perfect for the hammock or the beach!

      TRACK LISTING

      Step By Step (feat. Panda Bear)
      Love Me
      Creative Source
      Elevation (feat. Sunni Colon)
      Step By Step (Bonus Beat)


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