REVIEW: Douchka - Together

Laura Kerry

French producer Douchka is the paragon of cool. A graphic designer in Rennes, he entered the electronic dance music scene a couple years ago, playing the Red Bull Music Academy in Tokyo in 2014 and performing at The Sound You Need and the after party for the Pitchfork Music Festival that same year. Releasing his debut EP in 2015 with Nowadays Records, where he remains on the roster, he joined a rich legacy of French house music ranging from legends such as Daft Punk, Justice, and Kavinsky to a current flock of musicians rising onto the international scene.

Despite his coolness, though, Douchka’s latest EP, Together, is undeniably warm. From start to finish, the music seems to radiate and crackle with a gentle and hospitable heat—a feeling made literal with a sample of a fireplace on “Together,” a muted song that glows with the soulful voice of fellow Rennes-based alt-R&B musician Clarens. Amid movement-inducing percussion and the standard synth bloops and blips of EDM, Douchka’s album is blanketed in softness.

Like the fireplace in the opening title track, much of his sound library comes from tangible things in the world, lending a tactile quality to his breed of electronic music. In addition to found sound and acoustic piano, Douchka is also a fan of the mellotron, a synthesizer popularized in the pre-digital era of rock music, which lends a dreamy, slightly muffled effect to the synth sounds throughout Together. This electro-mechanical keyboard isn’t the only relic in the album: a sample from the Temptations’ “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” in “Don’t Leave” acknowledges old-fashioned soul amid its ultra-modern interpretation, and a grunted “uh,” sampled from or in the style of old-school rap fills a break in “You Know Bae.” EDM is a transient genre, its thrills meant to last as long as its audience remains on the dance floor, but Douchka props his music up on more durable materials.

Radiating alongside the warmth in the album is a sense of aesthetic confidence. Though unified by gentle washes of keys and synth, each song is fully developed and unique. The percussion in “Don’t Leave” sputters and sweeps underneath a manipulated sample from the Tempations’ sample; “Rosmeur” sets an otherworldly tone with cascading layers of mallet synths; “All Night Long” shuffles along towards seductive beat drops; “Infinity” features female singer Lucid who guides pulsing layers that add up to a pop-R&B feel; and “You Know Bae” samples from what I think is a country-tinged song by Steven Curtis Chapman, a Christian rocker, manipulating it into something that sounds like a female Jackson 5.

For both EDM enthusiasts and those more inclined towards other genres, Together offers itself up clearly and cozily. Whether accompanying the pulse of a club or the quiet of a sunny afternoon bedroom, Douchka’s music radiates from the speakers and spills into the space, investing it with a warm, bright glow.