Album Review: AM and Shawn Lee’s La Musique Numerique




AM and Shawn Lee

La Musique Numerique

Park The Van Records

Release Date: May 7, 2013


Track Listing

1.     Two Times

2.     All The Love

3.     Good Blood

4.     Suffer Like Me

5.     Replay

6.     In The Aftermath

7.     Automatic

8.     Special Disco

9.     Iron Leaf

10.  Louna

11.  Come Back To Me

12.  Steppin’ Out




AM and Shawn Lee’s sophomore effort together as a duo, La Musique Numerique (translated from French it means “Digital Music”) was released earlier this month through Park the Van Records. With the release of the new album, the duo have further cemented a reputation for having a production style that meshes digital and analog recording techniques and a sound that manages to be sunny, ethereal while playfully and adeptly blurring the lines between genres such as funk, dubstep, reggae, disco, soul and rock – and it’s done in a way that makes the material sound as though it could have been released in 1983, 2013 or 2043. “All the Love,” the latest single off La Musique Numerique fuses a foot-tapping four on the floor disco beat with airy synths and a subtle bit of dub, and propelled by a funky bass line which brings to mind two things in my mind, Rush Midnights impressive +1 which Cascine Records released last year; and of 80s R&B, thanks to a blazing guitar solo which closes the song. “Good Blood” which starts off with acoustic guitar chords, airy vocals and stomping four on the floor drums and an insanely catchy hook reminds me quite a bit of United-era Phoenix but with a funky disco-like bass line throughout the song. “Suffer Like Me” uses cowbell and a hip hop inspired breakbeat section in the hook. You’ll want to pop and lock in the B-Boy style once you hear it – and yet the track is incredibly ethereal to the point that it feels like it’ll float away. “Replay” is a peaceful bit of spaced out dub. “Special Disco” has a slowed down, seductive funk and is completed by lyrics crooned in a sweet falsetto. The duo’s second single, and album closer is a sunny, reggae-inflected cover of Joe Jackson’s 1982 mega hit “Steppin’ Out,” which creates an altogether different interpretation of the song – whereas Joe Jackson’s original is a bit haunting and anxious, AM and Shawn Lee’s cover is much more playful and throbs with excited energy like a heated up atom.

  For the most part, the material on the album is playfully inventive and reflects a rather fruitful collaboration between the duo – in fact, the material often feels and sounds like two guys with mutual influences jamming on a summer day, digging the funky, spaced out and yet anachronistic sounds they’ve just made. On repeated listens, it’s obvious that the album is perfect for playing at some summertime activity but with the right amount of wistful nostalgia unpinning it all. However, towards the middle of the album, the material kind of slogs a bit because it starts to sound a little similar – perhaps too similar for my tastes currently. In my mind, a change of tone and pace would be welcome around this point. And although that complaint may be a bit niggling to some, I can say that overall the album is so amiable that there’s a tendency to want to chill and dig the vibes while listening – and that’s more than okay.