The language barrier hinders music more than any other medium. It’s impossible to give music subtitles like a film, and having a different singer record translated lyrics can effectively ruin a song. Dance music, however, doesn’t have this limitation. With their latest EP, Deux, Rituel, the side project of French producers Christophe Monier (The Micronauts) and Thomas Regnault (Dew City Mayor), take advantage of the genre’s lack of focus on lyrics to integrate the sounds of Africa and India into two sprawling house tracks.
The first song, “Club Zanzibar,” opens with a cold, extraterrestrial sequence of beeps that slowly gives way to a building groove, underscored by looped chanting and singing. The track layers clattering drums over a traditional four-on-the-floor house beat. It becomes repetitive, but remains mesmerizing for the duration. The instrumental-only version of “Club Zanzibar” also included on the EP is even better than the original, forgoing the background vocals in favor of a heavier, rougher-edged aesthetic, which still retains the song’s danceability.
The more low-key “Nirvana Dance” uses a sludgy bassline as the foundation for a mountain of blissed-out choral samples, as well as a soloist singing a verse from the Bhagavad Gita. Rituel break up these waves of beautiful vocals with periods of minimalist dubstep. The two sounds come together at the end of the track in an understated but compelling finale. It’s an interesting experiment, but “Nirvana Dance” feels like it overstays its welcome long before its nearly ten-minute run-time is up—which is a shame, because the ending is pretty cool. Deux also includes a shortened “club version” of the song that raises the hype level, but it’s hard to imagine a club whose inhabitants would enjoy dancing to this track.
The two songs on Deux are an overall successful attempt to bring the sounds of two different continents into a genre often entrenched in American and European traditions. Experimental intentions aside, “Club Zanzibar” is an absolute banger (especially the instrumental version), and “Nirvana Dance” is gorgeous, if slightly too long. With Deux, Rituel reinforces the argument that the language of dance is universal.