TVD Radar: Stardust, “Music Sounds Better With You” vinyl reissue in stores 6/28

VIA PRESS RELEASE | “Music Sounds Better With You” was the eye of a perfect techno-cultural storm and became an immediate touchstone for a new and uniquely French kind of dance music that foregrounded filtered disco samples and deeply swung garage rhythms.

The landmark single is set for a long-awaited vinyl reissue and finally being made available on digital platforms for the first time ever on June 28th. What makes the song endure where so many other hits of that era have been relegated to curiosity? Part of it is its timelessness—the sense that it was always-already outside time: both a throwback to another generation and a musical imagining forward into a technotopian, post-human future. Another part of it is its cool simplicity, its unapologetic stripping away of anything extraneous, with nothing to disrupt or distract us from its modus operandi: to feel good experiencing music together.

Meeting by chance at a house party in the emerging electro scene in Paris in the mid-1990s, Alan Braxe and Thomas Bangalter formed a creative partnership that officially began with “Vertigo,” Braxe’s first single, released via Bangalter’s Roulé imprint in 1997. Shortly afterward, Jean-Sébastien Bernard and Pascal Esposito (aka Jess & Crabbe), the DJ duo behind the event series Les Soirées Hometown at the infamous Rex Club in Paris, invited Braxe to play a live gig. Braxe asked Bangalter to accompany him on keyboards, also enlisting Benjamin Diamond to lend vocals to the set.

The trio opted to compose something new for the occasion, structured around a short, funky loop sampled from Chaka Khan’s 1981 R&B hit “Fate.” After the Rex Club date, they spent a week in Bangalter’s studio, sculpting the track that would become their definitive statement. “Music Sounds Better With You” came together using the most rudimentary elements of electronic music technology: an old disco record, two samplers—an E-mu SP-1200 and an Ensoniq ASR-10 – and a MIDI sequence saved to a blue floppy disk.

On 20th July 1998, the Roulé label released “Music Sounds Better With You” as a single-sided 12″, with the anthem’s lyrics etched into the verso. The cut was enthusiastically embraced by France’s underground nightclub scene and soon circulated throughout Europe and North America. Club by club, one DJ at a time, the song established itself as the soundtrack to a pivotal season in which electronica entered the mainstream cultural consciousness.

“Music Sounds Better With You” was licensed to Virgin Records, who commissioned a video by the visionary filmmaker Michel Gondry. Buoyed by heavy rotation on MTV, the clip and song rode a wave of momentum that could only be called ‘viral’, selling over one million copies in an age still poised on the verge of internet virulence.

Over the summer of 1998, Stardust continued to work on original material. Rumors abounded that they were offered outrageous sums of money to produce a full-length album. But the members ultimately decided that there would be no follow-up to “Music Sounds Better With You.” That one smash is all that will remain of Stardust. And it’s perfect.

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