Tracing the influence of Cassius’ Philippe Zdar in 12 songs
Before a tragic accident took his life, the 52-year-old French musician left an indelible mark across pop and electronic music.
The death of Philippe Zdar on Thursday has led to an outpouring of condolences from across the musical landscape for the French musician. Best known as one-half of the house duo Cassius, Zdar worked behind the boards for artists like Kanye West, Robyn, Phoenix, and many more. He also was esteemed as a producer and engineer at his Motorbass Studios in Paris.
Some common threads in tributes were praise for Zdar's comforting demeanor and warmth, but many artists spoke with reverence about his musical contributions as well. Zdar "shaped the geography of modern dance music," according to The Black Madonna, while Rostam Batmanglij held Zdar's mixing on Phoenix's "1901" as a benchmark for his work in Vampire Weekend.
In celebration of Zdar's wide-ranging contributions, we've compiled 12 songs he worked on as an engineer, producer, or creator.
Motorbass, "Flying Fingers"
Zdar teamed up with Étienne de Crécy in 1996 to release Pansoul, a brooding and influential house project that still sounds ahead of its time.
La Funk Mob, "Motor Bass Get Phunked Up"
Before renaming to Cassius, Zdar and bandmate Hubert Blanc-Francard debuted as La Funk Mob in 1991. True to the track title, "Motor Bass Get Phunked Up" is a funkier version of the sound that would eventually be heard in the Motorbass project.
MC Solaar, "La 5ème Saison"
The highly esteemed French MC recruited Zdar to produce on several albums, including a self-titled project in 1998. The cloudy boom-bap of "La 5ème Saison" is a precursor to a style of production popularized by artists like Nujabes.