M83 – DSVII
Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming will always be my favorite M83 record. I love his brand of electronic pop that gives me a sense of wonder. That said, in recent months my love of analog synth has progressively grown. I wasn’t on the M83 train yet when he rolled out his DSVI compositions. But I’m here to go down the synth rabbit hole.
This album is the very definition of a slow burner. You have to be patient to consume it effectively, but the pay offs are worth it. This is how I felt when I heard “Temple of Sorrow,” which closes out the record for the first time. I was impatient and wanted some muscle. The build up was long, but the feeling I got when those dark synth tones finally kicked in made the wait worth it. Now, I wouldn’t change it.
“Hell Riders,” the album opener, requires even more patience than “Temple of Sorrow.” The first 2 and a half minutes are relatively quiet. Then, a nice airy “plink plink plink” melody kicks in, taking my mind to some ethereal realm where I fully expect it to remain for the duration of the record. The background vocals by Kaela Sinclair, who joined the band for the Junk era, are lovely. I can hear a bit of Junk influence in this song—as we go from new-age dreampop into vaporwave stylings. It’s some weird otherworldly medieval dystopia with old 90s jingles as a soundtrack. And this is just one track, dang it. How the heck am I supposed to expand upon 13 more, Anthony?
I already covered the album opener and closer so we’re covered. Everyone stop reading and go home.
Wait, you’re still here? Okay. I guess I’ll explore the meat of the record a bit with you. Who am I kidding? you knew I would write about this!
I can’t emphasize how much of an immersive experience this album is. Anyone obsessed with ASMR, drone, or any kind of sonic experimentation really, will find things to enjoy about this album. At times I’m taken back to when I first began to listen to Mount Eerie, an experimental artist most well known for his bare bones reflections about the passing of his wife, but lesser known for his drone-y doom influenced explorations that leave you feeling pleasantly unsettled. In fact, “pleasantly unsettling” is how I would describe much of this record. The second single “Lune De Fiel” sounds like the soundtrack to some sci-fi horror noir film while at the same time getting my adrenaline going into that classic M83 headspace of wonder.
On track 2, “A Bit of Sweetness,” I was listening on my iPhone and doing a bit of laundry. While walking down the stairs to my basement I noticed some visceral, delicate sound effects that seemed to swivel around me—all the more impressive considering my left ear sucks. I found myself murmuring a very genuine “whoa, that’s cool” aloud while in the drab setting of my basement.
Another thing you should ponder when listening to DSVII is that this record was composed and performed almost entirely on analog synthesizers. This makes the lush offerings of the record all the more impressive. “Oh Yes, You’re There Everyday” is a song that could be elevator music but fits well into the M83 canon, leaning squarely on that synth and piano. I’m not sure if the piano is acoustic or not—I kind of hope it’s not, to keep up with the theme. Either way, a counterintuitive piercing yet calming nature of the song is noteworthy.
Make sure you have some quality earbuds or headphones when you settle in for the ride that is DSVII. You’ll probably finish inspired to play some Legend of Zelda, read a fantasy novel, or perhaps take your car for a spin at the edge of your town at 3AM. Maybe I’ll do all three yet tonight.
Oh, and the trilogy of music videos to accompany this album is a whole ‘nother rabbit hole. Enjoy.