Best New Music: “Hyperion” by Gesaffelstein

If there is something that no longer surprises me is to acknowledge how many talented artists periodically emerge from within the French electronic scene. Even if we consider only the last twentyfive years, we can mention a remarkable number of influential figures such as Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoît Dunckel (Air),  Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter (Daft Punk), Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay (Justice), Nicolas Fromageau e Anthony Gonzalez (M83), Ludovic Navarre (St. Germain), Martin Picandet (Martin Solveig), and Benoit Carré (Skygge). These artists have developed their own peculiar styles and techniques, but all of them share the same capacity to combine originality of approach with style and, of course, enjoyability.

One of the figures that in the recent times has gained an increased attention as both producer and songwriter is Mike Lévy, an artist who is best known with his stage name of Gesaffelstein. Levy has already accredited himself as one of the most intriguing figures of contemporary electronic music, well beyond France, as witnessed by the fact that in the time-span of just a few years he has already accumulated a considerable number of collaborations with artists of the caliber of Pharrell Williams, Kanye West and The Weeknd.

French electronic producer and songwritre Mike Lévy, best known as Gesaffelstein, a made-up word meant as a reference to both the concept of “Gesamtkunstwerk” (total work of art) and Albert Einstein.
The first releases from Gesaffelstein date back to 2008 but his first LP (“Aleph”) arrived in 2013. So far, he has published two LPs and 9 EPs.

On March 2019, Gesaffelstein has released the album named Hyperion, which formally is the second studio LP of his discography after his 2013’s debut called Aleph. As said, during this time Lévy certainly had the opportunity to confront himself with many different artists and experiences and, in fact, the new album comes out in a moment in which the artist has undoubtedly gained greater popularity and awarenes. And what we hear from his newest release is absolutely impressive.

“Hyperion” is the second studio album by Gesaffelstein, released on 8 March 2019. The album is produced by Columbia Records and it includes collaborations with The Weeknd, Pharrell Williams, Haim, The Hacker and Electric Youth.

There are really many things that I appreciated in Hyperion. The first one is the solid research that the artist has done on the sonic aspect of his music. That’s particularly evident in the instrumental tracks of the album, where we can enjoy beautiful but also very particular ranges of sounds. As a matter of fact, the possibility of customizing and shaping both sounds and atmospheres is really one of the peculiarities of electronic music, something that should be sought and exercised by every artist. Conversely, many modern artists seem to be happy to just rely on those palettes of sounds that have already been defined and affirmed by others, making their albums to be often indistinguishable.


Another thing that I liked is the temper, the character of this music. For most of the tracks Hyperion basically offers a fairly accessible and synth-based version of techno music. Below the surface, however, there is always a dark and relatively haunting feeling that you get from the music. It’s like a fil-rouge that characterizes the album: this is more evident in the most synth-wave oriented songs like Reset and Ever Now but, in different measures, it’s present almost everywhere.


Last, but not least, we can really enjoy a lot of different ideas in the LP. The ten tracks Hyperion of are basically divided into two main categories: a group of structured “songs”, which typically see the presence of a vocalist, and another group of instrumental pieces, typically shorter and more immediate, which develop around a single musical element and elaborate on it both rhythmically and musically.

Gesaffelstein’s new record is definitely one of the best electronic albums we could enjoy so far in 2019, My rating for the LP is 8/10 and there are really many good songs that I can recommend, including Blast Off, Reset, Vortex and the long. poignant and exciting instrumental track Humanity Gone, which closes the record.



Hyperion is available for streaming on Spotify and it’s now featured also in The ELECTRONIC MUSIC Radar, the growing playlist which contains a selection of the best electronic songs that have been released in 2019.


Quick Review: “No Tourists” by The Prodigy

I believe that The Prodigy should be treated as one of the UNESCO World Heritages sites, protected and admired because of their importance for the collective interest of humanity. As a matter of fact, this is a band that not only contributed to define and disseminate the “big beat” genre, that’s one of the most exciting things that ever happened in music, but they also managed to maintain their style alive and relevant across a time span that embraces more than two decades. Whether you love or not their music (I do), no one can absolutely deny the influence that The Prodigy has had, and still has, on the wider universe of electronic music.

The Prodigy have released this year their new album, called No Tourists, the seventh full-length release of their career, which arrives three years after their highly appreciated record The Day Is My Enemy. This is a relatively short time span when compared to their average and the reason shall be found in the way this record was initially conceived. Soon after the release of their previous work, the band declared in many occasions that the process and the dedication that were necessary to compose and record an album so wide, complete, accurate and detailed as The Day Is My Enemy was starting to become excessive and unbearable for a group of musicians who have been playing the scene for so many years. I remember them saying that The Day Is My Enemy could even be their last LP. What they were starting to consider was basically the idea to exploit the modern mechanisms of access and distribution of music to concentrate their efforts on the publication of more frequent but smaller releases, something like a periodic sequence of EPs rather than one single full-length studio album. What I came to know is that initially No Tourists was effectively conceived as one of these short publications and only after a while it became the “conventional” LP that it’s now on the shelves. What’s the real reason for such a change in approach isn’t totally clear to me, but I can make my assumptions. The result, however, is that maybe for the first time we have a new album from The Prodigy which is less surprising, innovative and phenomenal like we were used to experience until the recent past.

The constituting elements of their music are all present in the new album and, in this respect, No Tourists must be considered as a very good release, stronger and more compact than the average electronic material that is generally published by the others. I already see the energetic and powerful songs of the new LP gain the highest positions in our music charts.

 

 

Compared to their standards, however, I can feel that No Tourists represents a sort of step backwards. May a legendary band like The Prodigy make a “normal album”? Yes, they can, but in true honesty this is not what they used to do so far.

These considerations aside, No Tourists is impressively compact and homogeneous and it’s also one of the most violent and aggressive releases of their discography. From a certain point of view it’s absolutely impressive to see how the energetic charge and the inner anger of the Essex ravers didn’t grow weak with the years, indeed it seems even stronger than before. And this doesn’t appear to me as a mere commercial operation because the feelings that emerge from their music remain absolutely genuine and exciting. What seems weaker, rather, is the care that has been dedicated in manipulating and improving every single song, the dedication in looking for an original and unique element that could turn every track into a single. In short, the compactness and uniformity of the songs of No Tourists certainly make the musical assault more devastating, but these also hide a process of composition and finalization of the album that was more rushed than usual.

From a musical point of view, listening to No Tourists seems like going through a journey into the band’s discography. The leitmotif of the album seems to be the re-interpretation of the most interesting ideas that were developed over the last thirty, and the fans of the band can enjoy many different references to the songs of the past, reworked in an interesting way and reproposed in a new guise. The previous records from The Prodigy, however, were characterized by the fact that at the end of the first listen we were already singing the choruses of the main songs. No Tourists is lacking this characteristic. It has the effect of leaving us exhausted by one of the strongest electronic assaults we ever experienced, but paradoxically it leaves a weaker signs after it finishes.

No Tourists can be streamed on Spotify.

Standout tracks: Light Up The Sky, Give Me a Signal, and Fight Fire with Fire.


 

Good and Free electronic tracks: Vision of Colour and Patrick Muschweck

It’s always nice when there are interesting and talented artists  who decide to promote their music making it available for free and at high quality. In this respect, Bandcamp music store gives us occasionally some real goodies.

I’m indicating in this post some of the most interesting things I have recently found on the site, all available for free in MP3, FLAC and other formats. Enjoy, and don’t forget to support the artists with some donation if you feel they deserve it.


Vision of Colour is a DJ and producer from Bristol who likes to play with many genres of electronic music, with special focus on deep house and UK garage. He has recently made available on Bandcamp a number of albums, all of them available for free donwload:  Legends, Trolls Weed & Ecstasy, Out Of Nowhere, Journey To The Past  and many others. Here there are some selected tracks, but you can download the entire collection from the associated pages.

 

 

 

 

 


Patrick Muschweck is a DJ, producer and sound engineer from Germany whose production is mainly devoted to dark & progressive techno. He has recently released a few  interesting tracks that are available for free dowload.