This week, beloved French producer and half of Cassius, Philippe Zdar died in a freak accident, falling out of the window of a tall Parisian building. His loss has been mourned by the greater music community, which has been forever impacted by his contributions over the past 30 years. In a twisted bit of fate, Cassius was getting ready to release a new album Dreems today with only Hubert Blanc-Francard aka Boom Bass able to see it out to the world.
The last album that will be made under Cassius, the record carries the joie de vivre that Zdar was so well known for. It also arrives on the French day of music where people celebrate all day and night with concerts all over the country. Zdar’s music has been a staple at these events and Cassius will be well heard ringing all over the country.
Dreems has the same sort of diverse sonics that they have developed over their entire career. The album goes back to the French house roots with a barrage of filter disco, but also more downtempo and eclectic soulful tracks.
You can be forgiven for not entirely knowing when songs start and end. They put this together a bit like a mix album (a continuous mix is at the end as well). Some elements of certain tracks blend into the next, notably as “Rock Don’t Stop” blends into the Mike D collaboration “Cause oui!” Often songs can be found in pairs as the album builds through various themes and elements that they have done over their career. A distinct Cassius sound threads through the record, but it veers between various themes of old-school house, hip-hop, disco and soul.
Dreems is if nothing else fun. It isn’t just a showcase of classic-sounding French house, though they do dive deep into on songs like “Calliope” and one of the clear standouts, “Don’t Let Me Be.”
“Cause oui!” with Mike D bridges the 80’s rap production with their own quirky adapted disco-influenced house that feels like two important and different worlds clashing in the best way. Considering Cassius’ background in producing MC Solar and other hip-hop artists, this finds its way into the record with ease.
This may be the last ever Cassius album, but it still feels like a celebration to live life with happiness, purpose and joy. You may feel sad that Zdar is gone, but his music lives on as the shining legacy of his life. Dreems keeps his spirit alive in all of its brilliance.