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Album Review

In the wryly cheeky interview video "Ciao! Means Forever," created to correspond with the release of his second artist album, the preposterously pseudo-pompous Tiga Sontag affects a perfectly deadpan disdain to describe his aversion to touching musical instruments, explaining how he's "forced to use his voice" as his only means of musical expression. The impish Montrealer is in fact credited with co-production on each of Ciao!'s tracks (and, in one case, 808 "live programming," whatever that means) which probably gives the lie to that particular bit of eccentric-artiste whimsy, but in any case, he's enlisted some highly qualified operators to handle much of the menial knob-twiddling here, mostly longtime collaborators and friends who just happen to include several leading lights of 2000s electro-house: the Belgian Dewaele brothers (better known as Soulwax and/or 2 Many DJs), Finnish producer Jori Hulkkonen (aka Zyntherius), Sweden's Jesper Dahlbäck, fellow Canadian Jason "Gonzales" Beck, and James Murphy of DFA and LCD Soundsystem renown. Tiga acknowledges their contributions in the liners with his allegedly well-known "false humility," admitting that without them he'd be "just another extremely funny guy who is amazing at football" — but in all seriousness their generous and readily discernible input helps to make Ciao! one of the most assured and enjoyable electronic pop/dance albums, front to back, in recent memory. Of course, "seriousness" is hardly the point here: Tiga's lyrical and vocal approach (which is indeed quite expressive, a definite step up from his sometimes undercooked past efforts) makes sure of that, with a slew of tongue-in-cheek tracks playing on his self-obsessed, hyper-glamorous persona — "What You Need," "Sex O'Clock," "Overtime," "Luxury" ("this is my reality but for you it's just a dream") and the quasi-novelty self-duet "Shoes," which plays like the missing link between the Kelly (Liam Kyle Sullivan) YouTube sensation of the same title and the Black Leotard Front's eccentric-erotic "Casual Friday" — all with club-ready, bassline-driven funky electro grooves and squelchy acid-laced synths to match. The covers that dominated his earlier output are absent here, happily enough, though there are a few notable musical "borrowings," particularly on the album's more subdued and genuinely sensitive latter half: slow jam "Gentle Giant" (co-written with Murphy, and sung with Scissor Sisters' Jake Shears) cribs its hook (wittingly or not) from the Beta Band's "Dry the Rain," while the touching, lilting "Turn the Night On" compounds its '80s homage with a groove lifted directly from Joe Jackson's "Stepping Out," and a melody (and lyrical sentiment) that recalls Bowie's "Modern Love." But calling out Tiga's influences and sources (something that his covers have obviously done throughout his career) should in no way be seen to diminish what he, and his estimable crew of machine manipulators, have accomplished here: Ciao! is at once a tremendously enjoyable piece of dancefloor fluff and an impressively unified statement from a master synthesist of electronic pop pleasures. ~ K. Ross Hoffman, Rovi


Born: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Genre: Dance

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Based in Montreal, Tiga is a DJ/producer who has effectively worked the underground and the mainstream with his wry brand of campy electro and stark techno. Born in Montreal, Canada, Tiga's first exposure to his future came from touring the Goa area of India with his DJ father throughout the '80s. Following in his father's footsteps, Tiga began spinning in Montreal's cooler clubs in the early '90s, bringing the acid house sound to Canada. Seeing as how there weren't any events like the Goa parties...
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