dOP the Parisian trio of Clément , Dam, and Jaw have been on a tear since they burst upon the scene three years ago, riling dance floors with their strange, sexy, infectious brand of irreverently soul the scene three years ago, riling dance floors with their strange, sexy, infectious brand of irreverently soulful house, and leaving writers scratching their heads at the same. Resident Advisor’s Todd Burns came closest to getting it right when he credited them with “trying to reenergize house music with horns, roses, vodka and a whole lot of vocals.”
Greatest Hits does all that and more. The title is deliberately misleading: aside from the opening track, reprised from their first EP, this is all new material, and it’s a deeper, more deviant dOP than you’ve ever heard before. The three musicians aren’t just great showmensomething their drunken live sets amply provebut also real musicians: before discovering house music, they played rock, jazz, hip-hop, reggae, classical, and African music, and they bring that wealth of knowledge to bear in their quest to turn dance music inside out.
So while the record has plenty of slinky funk and dirty grind, it also explores far more diverse moods and grooves, from hot jazz to autumnal, orchestral folk. Some of the richness of Greatest Hits can be credited to Emmanuel d’Orlando, a French composer and arranger known for his work in theater, soundtracks, and with artists like Sebastian Tellier.
His arrangements, performed by the Macedonian Radio Symphonic Orchestra, lend much of the album the darkly cinematic feel of a Sofia Coppola film. Down in their basement studio, the three musicians used virtually every instrument they ownhorns, pianino, Chinese flute, harmonica, melodica, cajon, gongs, cuica, analog synthesizers, acoustic drum kitand many of their friends stopped by to contribute. The acclaimed Calypso drummer Andy Narell plays steelpan drums.
Their childhood friend and former bandmate Raphaël Gaiotti plays trumpet; Damien Dassaradanayadou plays street arp, a homemade guitar of his own design; Aquarius Caloni (Aquarius Heaven) lends guest vocals. Parisian minimal techno producer Seuil mans the computer on one track, and Guillaume Coutu Dumont sits in on balafon. (Elements from the same sessions that became “Assurance Vie” turn up in a radically different form on Guillaume’s own Breaking the Fourth Wall.) Within the core trio, there’s a loose division of labor. Dam, on sax and keyboards, brings much of the melodic and harmonic dimension to the music; Clément tackles the rhythmic aspect and also handles most of the computer arrangements. Jaw, meanwhile, is dOP’s distinctive voice. His lyrics are a surrealistic scrapbook of sex, death, drugs, despair, sex, cannibalism, God, love, cities, and sex; purring and wailing, he comes across like Baudelaire on the prow of a pirate shipa knife in his teeth, a bottle in his hand, and a bulging baggie of lord-knows-what in his breast pocket.
A tragic dandy, loveable tramp, his own worst enemyJaw’s impassioned persona is the perfect foil for the group’s deeply thought-out music. Across 14 tracks, the album ranges from the uneasy ethnography of “Worm Hunting” to the brooding piano house of “No More Daddy.” There’s acoustic crunk (“1 gram”), jacking swing jazz (“Talk Show”), ambient blues (“Happ Meal”), a malevolent lullaby (“Lacy Lad”), apocalyptic funk (“Love Ride”). There’s straight-up, deeply soulful tech-house with acoustic flourishes (“New York,” “3 Suitcases”).
And “Final Dive,” with its orchestra and AutoTune, might be the most heartbreaking song you’ll hear all year. Because dOP’s eccentric take on house music demands to be played in clubsjust as clubs desperately could do with more music like dOP’sthe album will appear as three separate 12-inch singles, accompanied by remixes from Herbert, Âme, and DJ Koze; it will also be released digitally and on CD, with cover art from their friends Tom & Léo and Myqua, who have collaborated with the band since the beginning …