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Exercises de Styles

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Album Review

Exercices des Styles seems a fitting name for the many musical elements blended together on this album, where these German producers/arrangers — Marc A. Frank and C. Jochen Helfert — bring Latin rhythms, jazz arrangements, a disco aesthetic, orchestral depth, an electronica gloss, and seemingly endless creativity to their stable of musicians. The results are dizzying as each song seems an entirely unique vision with few shared formal characteristics, making this album almost feel like a compilation. Yet no matter how many new instruments or ideas Les Gammas bring to each song, their signature eclecticism and sense of aesthetic motif remain constant. Furthermore, a few vocal tracks here and there bring an additional sense of humane melody — particularly on "Don't Waste My Love," which could have been a seminal early '70s Philadelphia International release — along with variety to the album, which can best be thought of as anything but generic.


Formed: Augsburg, Germany

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '90s, '00s

The Bavarian duo of Mark Frank and Jochen Helfert comprise Les Gammas, who catapulted to critical success on the Munich, Germany-based Compost label, where their jazz-funk-disco fit perfectly alongside the label's other premier artists such as Minus 8 and Beanfield. Frank functions as the duo's DJ, percussionist, and vocalist, while Helfert specializes on the keys, resulting in a perfect synthesis of rhythm and melody. Their first production from late 1997, "Servus Mr. Bond," didn't hit shelves until...
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