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He has a voice. Of all the French house artists of his generation, Benjamin Diamond is the only one with a distinctive voice in an electronic genre where sampling and auto-tune have always been the easiest ways to attract attention. And this is what sets him apart, for better or for worse. Because a voice like his, rough and melodic, groovy and masculine, is an indefinable privilege in a world of underground production that often prefers instrumentals and computers.
But thanks to this voice, Benjamin Diamond is a true front man. He is the lead, whether on his albums or on stage. The worldwide success of “Music Sounds Better With You” by Stardust in 1998 gave him the opportunity to create his own label, become a producer, and develop his style. And the hit Stardust, composed with Alan Braxe and Thomas Bangalter, remains to this day one of the finest records of what has been called the French Touch. Fifteen years later, it remains a continual classic, still compelling. Something that makes you more than just dance. A record that moves you, that gives you goose bumps, and puts a smile on your face. An era captured by an album that everyone loves.
Of course, it is difficult to overcome such a great accomplishment. But do we dare ask Joe Smooth what comes after “Promised Land”? Certainly not. People are forever grateful when such great records appear. The public appears to ask for nothing more. Yet the artist must persevere. In the last ten years, Benjamin Diamond has developed his career, always looking for crossover opportunities. Several tours, three albums (“Strange Attitude”, “Out Of Myself” and “Cruise Control”), working as the artistic director at his own label. He has maintained throughout all this an upright spirit. The man is handsome, talented, and multi-instrumentalist, yet remains humble in the true sense of the word. This is a rare quality in the field of pop music. The credibility of Benjamin Diamond has never been tainted.
Now in their forties, the kids of house have become men with family responsibilities and the commitment that entails. Although all must deal with these trials of adjustment, it may be more complicated when working in a genre dominated by youth. Experience is gained over time and Benjamin Diamond starts again here almost from scratch with a completely new independent album, surely the best option in today’s world. Back to basics, in his words. He began with this beautiful sleeve cover commissioned for the third album, by Guy Peelleart, the artist who synthesized the teenage dreams of my generation (Rock Dreams, 1974). The image presages neoclassical house.
Benjamin Diamond has a voice. And that voice is unique. It’s got blues. And blues and house go well together. Fifteen years after Stardust, computers have changed, music is even easier to make, and the very concept of music seems misguided, but the real test is to find your place, and keep reinventing yourself again and again, even if it is painful. Back to basics.