Friday 15 July 2022

'Canne à Sucre' by As Valet

"It is our duty not to forget history, to transmit and protect our cultural heritage to each generation."

'Canne à Sucre' represents a continuation of a journey that Parisian producer and beat-maker Cris "As Valet" Davidas started back in 2020.  Through the dynamic French label, A Night on Canopy, As Valet's third album 'Inner Journey' served as something of a spiritual reconnection to Davidas' roots in the Caribbean island of La Martinique. 

A spiritual reconnection as well as a musical one with As Valet's archetypal penchant for hip-hop-inspired production having found new inspiration alongside the music and legacy of La Martinique.  The results then for 'Inner Journey' and now, two years later, for 'Canne à Sucre' make for an incredible journey that absolutely does pay respects to the music and culture's lineage while also empowering As Valet to decidedly look forward to create with confidence.

And as a listener, it's a fascinating concept to be taken on by an artist worthy of high esteem.  But these two poignant Canopy releases aren't the only recent projects that hold the keys to As Valet's past.  Many will remember As Valet as one part of the innovative Parisian future soul quartet Electric Conversation from the UK label, Futuristica Music.  A tightly-knit unit that paired As Valet with group members Oz, LaNote and Gus La Temp, the collective released two fantastic projects in 'Communication' (2007) and 'Electric Conversation' (2013) which unveiled an exciting golden-era hip-hop and soulful infusion of electronica.  January of this year saw the release of 'The Lost Recordings' which provided this glorious snapshot of the four friends and those early years recording together and finding their voice before the eventual release of their debut album years later.

'The Lost Recordings' is as much a part of As Valet's tapestry than anything else and another pivotal piece of what makes 'Canne à Sucre' such an incredible release.  Spearheaded by the single 'Mornes' featuring vocalist Raphaël Neblai and spoken word by Jewice, the single and accompanying video paint such an excellent introduction to the project as a whole.  Other album highlights come in the form of the album's title track, the ominous-sounding 'Vérité' featuring Cris Prolific and the sublime 'Missié Guedon' featuring vocalists Lanoir and LaNote.  The brilliant production of 'Tumbélé' could very well be the highlight of the whole project though - its warm keyboards, looped saxophone and vocal samples just encapsulate such a hypnotic vibe you wish the song could play for another ten minutes.

'Canne à Sucre' proves to be a captivating listen and a project born of such pure-of-heart intentions as encapsulated by the opening quote from As Valet to surmise the project.  It will be fascinating to see whether As Valet's journey of self-discovery will continue beyond 'Canne à Sucre' or whether this album represents the destination reached.  If so, it's been an incredible journey!

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