Escapades is the debut solo album from Gaspard Augé, better known as one half of the duo Justice. As the band that brought rock to electronic dance music, Justice are one of the most well-known and revered acts of the mid 2000s onwards. Expectations can’t be anything but high for Augé’s solo debut.
He describes his work as an attempt to make something “without overthinking it,” and there’s a simplicity to its unashamed maximalism. Just about everything is thrown at the wall and it pretty much all sticks. Basslines move with a rock attitude whilst keeping their 70s inspired funk sound. Melodies capture the hooks of movie soundtracks at the same time as they flirt with psychedelia and prog rock.
Talking about the album, Augé said he’s “always been obsessed with making larger than life music. Mostly because it’s more fun.” If ever there were an apt description for Escapades, that’s it. It’s clear in the music that Augé enjoyed himself making this. Each track carries a feeling of experimentation and exploration. Continuing that rock influence so central to Justice’s work, the album is like the electronic dance equivalent to jamming. Working with composer Victor le Masne, the pair recorded Escapades across two months in what must have been both grandiose and playful sessions.
With music inspired by bombastic film scores, the songs have a tendency to illicit the feeling of themes from imaginary movies. Force Majeure is a perfect opener that carries the vibe from Justice’s latest work, Iris. Another standout, Europa is a mix of Dario Argento Horror and Sergio Leone Western. It’s in these uncanny blends that the only issue of the album arises. Escapades never escapes what it is: a fun experiment by Augé.
The label’s narrative of French dance music always borders on the comical. “Escapades sounds like a UFO landing from another galaxy,” for example. But an honest description of what this is would be best. Escapades is Gaspard Augé’s playful attempt to figure out his own identity independent of Justice. The album is a rush of cinematic music that touches on everything from sci-fi to western to horror, all while being distinctly French electronic dance music.
It’s a testament to Augé’s talent that this solo experiment is as good as it is. Fans of Justice shouldn’t miss this. But really, no one should. If only all solo debuts were this fun.