Music that has a sense of humor, about itself or about the world, is often dismissed easily. We all value the chance to laugh and enjoy ourselves, but for some reason, it seems like anything really important has to touch different emotions. It’s not that General Elektriks, or as he is known by Immigration, Herve Salters, has made a particularly funny album with his Quannum debut, Cliquety Kliqk (though he appears to have a vendetta against my spell check). But there is a lightness surrounding the Parisian’s vintage keyboard-based music that could be mistaken as a lack of substance. Persistent listens, however, reveal the rewards to be found in this musical funhouse.
Now living in Berkeley, in close proximity to his Quannum associates (including Blackalicious, who will feature him on their upcoming album, The Craft), Salters is best known for his keyboard skills. The man has amassed a collection of vintage keyboards like Clavinets, Hammonds, and particularly the Fender-Rhodes. This knowledge of keyboards really shines through on “Tu M’Intrigues” and similar tracks.
But what is really phenomenal about the record is Salters’s sense of melody. His songs are beautiful and they have an immediate playfulness that recalls psychedelic sixties work and the best of the late-nineties hip-hop-fringed electro-pop. The best of Wagon Christ comes to mind, and it’s no surprise that the record grows on you with each listen, revealing more and more rhythms and melodies to enjoy. His collaborations with Lateef (of Latyrx) are just as enjoyable, and single “Facing the Void” would be set for hit status in a perfect world.
The lightness of the music is, sadly, its biggest hurdle. Songs like “Time To Undress” (which is fairly self-explanatory) and “Central Park” don’t provide much more than a funky groove to excuse their basic silliness — assuming you need an excuse. With the hundreds of records that come out every week, it is easy to ignore the record that doesn’t say something. But music like this is something we all need in our lives, and the dedicated listener will find something deservedly valued these days: great genre-defying pop music.