Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Julien Auger aka Pépé Bradock is an enigma, his records are few and far between and each can best be described as being a quirky take on the house blueprint. He hardly does any interviews and he makes no attempts as pushing his profile in the media. His records are timeless and each and every one of them doesn't seem to have aged a bit and are as relevant now as the day that they were released. Possibly his most famous track 'Deep Burnt' samples Freddie Hubbard's 'Little Sunflower' and simply loops it for what is surely one of the greatest deep house records of all time. My personal favourite is 'Life' which does the same simple loop but with the violin reprise at the end of Prince's 'Purple Rain' as the sample material. It is a record that I will never grow tired of and I've already worn out two copies of the beast. The first time I heard it played was in 2000 by a friend of mine, Ross Hamber, who was playing a warm-up set somewhere in Cape Town. The moment it came through the speakers I was mesmerized and I had to get a copy as soon as possible. It took about 7 or 8 months of scavenging to find a copy and when I did I bought two just in case. It's one of those records that if I see it in a store I'll buy it, which is a tad obsessive but maybe that is my form of otaku.
Pépé is also responsible for quite possibly the best remix of all-time, his reworking of Iz & Diz 'Mouth' that came out on Classic a few years ago. The entire record was made just by using sounds generated by the mouth and Pepe took this concept and turned it into a dancefloor destroyer by subtly changing the composition and adding a few of his unmistakable touches. It's as superb as it is simple.
Another remix of his that hardly gets any plays is his reworking of Ceseria Evora's 'Angola' which was slightly overshadowed by the large Carl Craig remix on the flip. Pépé's remix is highly respectful of the feel for the Ramiro Mendes original and effortlessly takes the track to a point so deep that you could probably take a bath in it.
The thing that I love about his records are that he doesn't tend to overcomplicate the arrangements of his tracks, he just gets a loop going and then builds on it by adding subtle yet effective elements. It takes a brave man to put out records that are so simple in the current music climate where over the top wins more often than not. Some of his records are incredibly dark and some are incredibly joyful showing an ability to execute raw emotions through sound that is unrivaled in the word of dance music. He's obviously a man that puts his heart and soul into every release and on every level they are perfect. I can guarantee you that in the years to come a lot of my records will be doing nothing more than taking up space on my shelves but Pépé's records will still be in constant rotation around my way.
Pépé's studious technique has extended to the packaging and identity of the records where he has extensively used the artist Numero Six to develop concepts, worked out in a combination of sculpture, illustration and graphic design to counterpoint his spooky, lushly-textured, soft-edged deep house.
I've been looking for information on Numero Six for years and can't find anything, so if anyone out there can help point me in the right direction I'll be gratefully appreciative.
If you haven't done so then I suggest seeking out Pépé Bradock's entire back catalogue as you won't be disappointed.
Here is a video of him speaking at the Red Bull Music Academy.
Here is Deep Burnt in all its glory.
His records tend to be released on his own label Atavisme or on Kif and aren't as hard to find as you would think that they are. I personally don't trust anyone who doesn't have 'Life' or 'Deep Burnt' in their record collections. Incredible pieces of music.