A major yet discreet figure on the French electronic scene for almost fifteen years, Cédric Steffens, aka Canblaster, is an artist universally respected and admired. His early fans know that he started out by producing soundtracks for video games while he was still in high school, before immersing himself in techno, UK garage, rave and house at the end of the 2000s. Originally from Douai in the North of France, he quickly established a name for himself both as a solo artist and as a member of the legendary quartet Club Cheval, alongside Myd, Panteros666 and Sam Tiba. He laid the foundations very early on for what would become Canblaster’s signature sound: hyperactive and romantic at the same time, obsessed with the miracle of groove and the idea of the future. Considered gifted when it came to working with electronic music devices, as well as being prolific and a perfectionist in equal measures, he released heavy-hitting EPs on Marble, Bromance and Pelican Fly, influential labels of the era defined by rhythms much less “straight” than what people had been accustomed to at that time in France. Building on these highly acclaimed releases, he worked with Lido, Theophilus London and even Kanye West, and remixed Charli XCX, A.G. Cook and Cashmere Cat.

As someone who is eternally unsatisfied, Cédric Steffens nevertheless refused to rest on his laurels by churning out the Canblaster sound. As Club Cheval came to an end around 2016, he decided to start experimenting with modular synthesizers – a radical shift for someone who had rarely worked with hardware in the past. He spent a long time immersing himself in this tech which inspired infinite possibilities. He experimented with lots of things, trained at IRCAM (the French Institute for Research and Coordination in Acoustics/Music), honed his skills in the studio alongside his friend Bastien Dorémus – the man in the shadow of Juliette Armanet and Christine & the Queens – and collaborated with him during Hyper Weekend Festival 2023, for his tribute to Mylène Farmer. Embracing the principle of musical creation in all its enormity, Cédric is also at ease working on recompositions of Brahms for the arranger duo Code, or collaborating with the singer-performer Jacques while he was based in Morocco for several months.

These years spent expanding the limitless depths of his technical and creative potential resulted in a huge, long-term project which will embody in different phases the breadth and versatility of the artist Canblaster as he emerges from this long period of maturation.

First there was the mixtape called GENESIS. Ten spectacularly effective tracks dominated by the science of breakbeat and romantic layers, more oriented towards UK bass and the “hardcore continuum” than towards French listening habits. You can feel a sort of dazzling spontaneity despite Cédric’s virtuosity: the whole thing sounds like an express encyclopedia of dance music according to Canblaster, written almost in one sitting. It’s a short and lively mixtape where ecstasy and melancholy hold hands on the dancefloor.

Crafted as a three-part album, LIBEROSIS is a piece that offers several levels of interpretation and sensitivity. The provisional result of Canblaster’s quest is a meditative 18-track epic mixed by Steve Dub (known for having been the sound engineer of his role models, The Chemical Brothers). It’s a record that plays with the codes of pop (both contemporary and vintage) as well as those of club music, again often those from the UK, drum’n’bass, 2-step and dubstep. It sends up their methods of narration and exposition, examining the question of drops and obedience to machines.

Performed in an intermediate space, neither purely functional but never conceptual or “meta,” here is a record which reveals landscapes between the end of the world and rebirth, hope and destiny, haunted by vocal fragments pronounced in an unknown but precious language, where flashes of video game soundtracks such as Final Fantasy appear. It’s a world brought to life by both human desire and technical genius, which brings to mind – more in its spirit than in its music itself – Yellow Magic Orchestra and the late Ryuichi Sakamoto.

LIBEROSIS ACT I is the first chapter of this comprehensive work and is available now on all digital platforms.

ACT II and III will be released in the following months.

Watch the video for „IF I’M NOT HERE“ by The Pinguin Lab below.