Les Rythmes DigitalesView in iTunes
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More akin to French nu-disco compatriots like Daft Punk than his Wall of Sound labelmates, Jacques Lu Cont's Les Rythmes Digitales project bridges the gap between the quintessentially early-'80s phenomenon of synth pop and more contemporary styles like acid house and trip-hop. Lu Cont is actually of British origin, however; he was born Stuart Price to a Reading couple vacationing in Paris. Both were classical pianists, but Stuart was turned on to the twin towers of electro -- Kraftwerk and Afrika Bambaataa -- at an early age. He also became interested in noted French proto-electronica figures like Pierre Henry and Jean-Jacques Perrey, and began experimenting with synthesizers as a teenager. Mark Jones from Britain's Wall of Sound Recordings gained a demo tape from a third party, invited Price to begin recording for the label, and even concocted his Gallic alias (years before Daft Punk and Air made French citizenship a hot property). The first Les Rhythmes Digitales single was 1996's electro-shocked "Kontakte," followed closely by the debut album Liberation. Price looked to another of his influences for his second Wall of Sound single; "Jacques Your Body (Make Me Sweat)" was a streamlined acid-disco epic, the title a clever pun on Chicago house kingpin Steve "Silk" Hurley's hit from ten years earlier. Price began a DJ residency spinning '80s hits, and even provided a few remixes, for decade classics like Heaven 17's "(We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang" and Robert Palmer's "Addicted to Love" as well as labelmates Dirty Beatniks. Les Rhythmes Digitales became a noted live act as well, playing 1998's Reading Festival (a hometown gig for Price) and headlining a Wall of Sound label tour through Britain and Europe. A new single, "(Hey You) What's That Sound?," anticipated his second album, and featured none other than Boy George in its accompanying video. Forthcoming material didn't appear, however, thanks to a new gig serving as musical director for a Madonna tour. He also helmed most of the tracks from her 2005 album Confessions on a Dance Floor, and became one of the more popular pop production names by the end of the decade thanks to work for Seal, Pet Shop Boys, Kylie Minogue, Lady Gaga, Scissor Sisters, Keane, and the Killers. ~ John Bush
1978 in Paris, France