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.
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.
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.