Tuesday 13 July 2021

'Virgo Stellar' by As Valet

'Virgo Stellar' marks the new album release from the exceptionally-talented Parisian beatmaker and producer, As Valet, released through Futuristica Music.

Having now achieved the remarkable milestone of his fourth solo album, Cris "As Valet" Davidas seems to find himself in the midst of an incredibly creative period of music-making.  Having already handled the production for LaNote's 'Rebirth' album - also released through Futuristica earlier this year - As Valet's use of lush samples, hip-hop-inspired production and soulful presentation helped LaNote in delivering an absorbing and profound debut solo album paving the way for his own return to the label that first introduced both artists to the world, through the future soul classics of Electric Conversation. 

With 2021 the year that sees Futuristica Music celebrate their fifteenth year within the music industry, it's certainly proved a time for reflection.  With the label revisiting past projects by Marc Rapson and Rise through their subsequent reissues this year, along with an extraordinary Futuristica 'best of' compilation still on the way, solo albums from both As Valet and LaNote this year makes the experience all the more poignant.  A tightly-knit unit that paired group members As Valet, Oz, LaNote and Gus La Temp, the collective released two fantastic projects in 'Communication' (2007) and 'Electric Conversation' (2013) that will forever take pride of place amongst the label's most awe-inspiring releases.

While past solo projects - 'Primitive' (2010), 'A.K.W.A.' (2016) and 'Inner Journey' (2020) - have each continually demonstrated As Valet's boundless talents and versatility, much of those projects found their sound rooted within an instrumental hip-hop aesthetic boasting a mish-mash of styles and clever use of samples throughout.  'Virgo Stellar', however, looks to see As Valet's style evolve into exciting new dimensions.  Even the album's front cover artwork cleverly foreshadows the experience for the listener - kneeling down to the floor while regarding the alternative perspective his reflection presents indicative of the album's distinctly new approach.  Following the aforementioned solo albums, 'Virgo Stellar' finds its home within an inspired soulful style of electronica - music at times perhaps more akin to those glorious Electric Conversation recordings.

With vocalists LaNote and J.Mcfysian sharing vocal duties across nine of the album's ten tracks, the pair are afforded a diverse and eclectic musical backdrop with which to create their own magic.  'Lost' - aided in large part by its excellent accompanying Paris-at-night video - boasts subtle twinges of 90s trip-hop that really help to enhance the tone of isolation conveyed by J.Mcfysian's vocal; LaNote shines on the sublime production of 'Come True' and the heavier and dustier hip-hop style drums of 'Bluffin' hark back to some of the glowing moments from last year's 'Inner Journey'.

Regardless of the project that As Valet turns his hand to - be it any one of his solo albums, his production or remixes for other artists, or even his fantastic 'Cosmic Radio' radio show - there's an incredible attention to detail throughout each of those projects.  Art created through passion and feeling, no wasted moments and music with its own raison d'etre.

As Valet is an absolute master of his craft and 'Virgo Stellar' is further evidence of his limitless artistry.

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