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Jacques Greene - Fever Focus EP Music Album Reviews

After last year’s Feel Infinite, the Canadian producer expands and refines his arsenal of club tools, folding touches of acid and ambient into tracks that build on his melodic sensibilities.

This past summer, Jacques Greene launched his party series Beau Travail with a simple premise: the Toronto-based producer going back to back all night with some of his favorite selectors. Guests so far have included Project Pablo, Eclair Fifi, and Martyn Bootyspoon; the anything-goes format recalls Philippe Aubin-Dionne’s Montreal club beginnings, allowing him the chance to test out new material in an intimate setting.

Much like those nights, which might feature anything from ghettotech to deep house, there’s a delightful sense of informality to his latest EP, Fever Focus. Following his 2017 debut album, Feel Infinite, these six tracks began as “fun loops and ideas” that the producer then sculpted and played in DJ and live sets over the past year. Some songs, like the throbbing endorphin rush “Convex Mirror,” first surfaced as demos on Aubin-Dionne’s 48-minute mixtape shared on NTS Radio in May, but here, they’re fully fleshed out and given the space to breathe. Rather than a stopgap between releases, it’s his most high-definition collection to date, building on familiar forms and expanding his melodic sensibilities.

These tracks skew warmer and gauzier than his previous output, and they showcase an encyclopedic knowledge of his rave forebears. Whereas it’s commonplace for today’s electronic producers to have one album cut that’s explicitly “acid” or “ambient,” Aubin-Dionne opts to fold these influences into the mélange. The latter reference point rears its head on the aforementioned “Convex Mirror” with a whirring synth line evoking a babbling forest brook, backdropped by minimalist drums. Longtime followers will be pleased to find he hasn’t abandoned mesmerizing vocal chops, though here they’re dubbed and spun until they’re ghosts in his machines, like on the rattling jacker “Perlant” and the twitchy title track.

The two biggest highlights are the two longest songs, where the producer takes the time to let his ideas gently unspool. “Nordschleife”—named after the infamous German racing track known for testing the mettle of even the most skilled drivers—samples Los Angeles singer-songwriter Kelsey Belkin, whose melancholic refrain (“You make me cry”) is looped and laid over airy synths and jungle breaks. The EP culminates with the sensual mid-tempo house cut “Avatar Beach,” where Aubin-Dionne deftly balances driving percussion and feathery trance pads like a digital illustrator finding new colors.

Describing the making of Feel Infinite last year, the producer said, “I love the club as social microcosm. You get snapshots of people's true colors and I love that for the good and the bad.” While Fever Focus is deliberately less conceptual, it taps into a wide array of moods and textures while expanding the arsenal of dancefloor anthems at his disposal. For proof of its effectiveness, look no further than the recording of Aubin-Dionne’s four-and-a-half hour B2B set with Scottish DJ and LuckyMe labelmate Eclair Fifi this past summer. At the midway point, “Convex Mirror” is dropped, and you can practically feel the energy in the sweaty Toronto venue rise as the dancers cheer. Almost a decade since he released his first EP, he’s still finding new paths to euphoria.

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