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22 April, 2014@9:23 am

There’s a moment on the long-awaited debut album from Duck Sauce, Quack, in which a thick accented Italian DJ from New Jersey speaks on his set selection, suggesting: “I like the boom-a, the boom-a, the boom-a, the hard music, the hard beats. They don’t make me dance.” It’s one of many humorous sketches that sews Quack together, but is also the album’s boldest statement on the current state of “electronic dance music”: that being that the “dance” element has been largely forgotten.

But that’s about as political as it gets, as the album is more about having fun than making any serious proclamations. After all, this is an album rooted in the study of “duckology 101″, that warns it’s not for the “duckless misogynists”, instead described as “bio-rhythmic beats of an electro-chemical fusion of techno funky vinyl scratching that makes her tail-feathers shake”.

That wordy description is one way of putting it, the other that this is the culmination of years of collaborations between Fool’s Gold founder and ITF/DMC world champion, A-Trak, and legendary house music producer Armand Van Helden. Pre-dating the big stateside EDM explosion, their history began with “aNYway”, an irresistible funky disco house anthem, followed by the addictive viral smash, “Barbra Streisand”, and several other singles, most of which are included here.

The underlying theme of Quack seems to channel the heartbeat of New York City, and the various different cultures that inhabit it. The album opener, “Charlie Chazz & Rappin Ralph” is a disco house driven homage to hip-hop’s earliest years, sounding curiously like Jurassic 5′s Chali 2na and a pitched down A-Trak, trading verses in the devastating, rock shockin’ Cold Crush / Furious Five style.

But they don’t keep their feet too firmly planted in disco, as later on “Radio Stereo”, we hear bits of new wave and punk, while “It’s You” plays with 50′s doo-wop. The album’s latest single, “NRG”, is a mesh of 80′s hair rock and contemporary pop, over up-tempo dance rhythms. Yet there still are a few disco bangers for the long-time Duck enthusiasts, as Armand’s influence looms over tracks like “Goody Two Shoes” or the Dave 1 of Chromeo featured “Everyone”.

A very tight, concise LP, the only glaring omission here is “Big Bad Wolf”, which was left off for unknown reasons. While the album does have its share of previously released tracks, the now classic “Big Bad Wolf” should have been included at least for archival purposes, at the risk of being forgotten when this album is listened to years later.

If anything, the common element on Duck Sauce’s long-overdue is simply “fun”. Bridged together with a series of humorous sketches, the album doesn’t take itself too seriously, yet is made with the utmost sense of integrity, bringing the “dance” element back to electronic dance music. Trends come and go, but Alain and Armand have instead zeroed in on a more timeless approach to their production, creating an outstanding LP in the process. It’s that Quack music.

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