Thirst: SebastiAn, Act II. It only took eight years of waiting for one of the most unique artists to finally deliver a new dose of contemporary electro pyrotechnics and a worthy successor to the smashing Total. During those eight years, SebastiAn successfully completed a 360° turn. Plus, it’s been eight years of putting his talent to the good use of others (Frank Ocean, Kavinsky, Charlotte Gainsbourg) to help him get to where he wants to be today. From European electro to American R&B via classic pop, Thirst sets ablaze all genres. His taste for explosive mechanisms (like his well-known “turbine” techno sub-genre label-mates at Ed Banger) made Total an elegantly revolutionary debut album that captivatingly took things to the extreme, while being as frightening as a ticking bomb. But now, the wait is over. Thirst bursts forward providing an amazing opening to brand new worlds. This 14-track adventure narrates the journey of how he mastered machines, his own demons and even several time zones.
“The general approach to this record corresponds to the time when Frank Ocean called me in Paris, telling me I had to be in Los Angeles the next day to work alongside him,” reveals SebastiAn. “At the same time, I’d met Charlotte Gainsbourg to produce her latest album. So I found myself working with these two opposing personalities: on one side you’ve got Frank Ocean, who’s ultra charismatic and fanciful, while on the other, Charlotte Gainsbourg is both an introvert yet so openly real. When Charlotte moved to New York, Frank landed in London, and so the work process suddenly switched. I found this really interesting. My record came about from all the encounters I made going between these two projects.” The energy from such contrasts brought this project to life, provoking SebastiAn to call upon an impressive list of artists to feature on Thirst (Syd from The Internet, Mayer Hawthorne, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Allan Kingdom, Sevdaliza, Bakar, Sunni Colòn, Sparks, Gallant and Loota). “From Ed Banger to Jean-Louis Costes and Katerine, or Frank Ocean to Charlotte Gainsbourg, my music has always looked to build bridges,” outlines the self-confessed fan of DJ Premier, Giorgio Moroder and Suicide, who’s managed to bring different styles together as one on this record. From this head-on collision between cold European techno and the warm tones of R&B, hip-hop and American gospel comes a series of explosions which progressively topple towards unchartered territories. With a certain Slavic melancholy that’s an homage to his roots, SebastiAn makes the single Beograd evolve from metronomic dirty disco to a melody of cinematographic stature worthy of De Roubaix, entangled in a Chopin-esque lamenting sonata. The art of SebastiAn is certainly the art of suspense. He’s like a tightrope walker, juggling a balancing act from the intimate to the epic (just take Run For Me which is a tour de force), and from minimalism to baroque to create a mystical form of electronic music. Thirst has such a contemporary edge to it, and that’s because he’s not aiming for a total collision between music’s major current trends (electro and R&B), but in fact he’s looking to rearrange the rules, settling alight the history of pop (The Beach Boys-eque Better Now) and rock (Handcuffed To A Parking Meter reaching dizzying heights with his idols Sparks), and a certain classicism in a recurring dialogue between strings, piano and knob-twiddling machines.
In 2011, for the cover work for Total, Jean-Baptiste Mondino captured SebastiAn as a modern-day Narcissus, photographing the musician kissing his alter ego. Eight years later, the same photographer once again depicts the artist with his double, however this time the love affair has ended and it’s fists up ready for a fight. To sum up this game of metaphors, Thirst is a beefed-up declaration of love – not of SebastiAn to himself, but to the world around him. Thirst leaves you thirsty for more.
US TOUR DATES
12/18 @ Fonda Theatre – Los Angeles, CA
12/19 @ Great American Music Hall – San Francisco, CA
12/21 @ Webster Hall – New York, NY