Saturday, June 16, 2012

Artist of the Day: M83

M83 has garnered some serious respect after the release of their most recent album, Hurry Up, We're Dreaming, and having the first single off of that album, "Midnight City," become a huge hit with electronic music fans everywhere. For most of these people though, M83 is a one-hit wonder, and the rest of the band's work is completely unknown. Who is M83? What was their music like before the present? It's actually a fantastically interesting musical history that's led to this point.

M83 is the brainchild of French multi-instrumentalist Anthony Gonzalez, who does a lot of recording for the band on his own. However, for the first two albums (M83; Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts), he was assisted by Nicolas Fromageau, and I think it's really interesting to note that these are M83's two biggest albums with post-rock fans. The first album that started to garner M83 more attention than these two smaller releases was Before The Dawn Heals Us, which was around the time he started to use the electronic aspect of his music in a more mainstream way: the layering became slightly less complex, and the more upbeat feel of his music began to show.

Then, Digital Shades Vol. 1 surfaced, and that was a return to what he had been really aiming for with the early M83 tracks. It was a collection of ambient works that was somewhat of an early aspiration of Gonzalez for M83. There may be more Digital Shades collections in the future, as Gonzalez notes that he intends them to be a series of CDs.

Finally, Gonzalez began moving towards what the feel of the band really is today in 2008, with the release of Saturday = Youth. It was heavily inspired by 80's synth-pop music, and Gonzalez notes to listeners that that's really what he wanted the album to feel like, mentioning that it was heavily inspired by his teenage years, and what it felt like to be a teenager. Gonzalez furthered this direction with Hurry Up, We're Dreaming in 2011, taking three years to really work through and provide some of his best material for the double album. You can read more about Hurry Up, We're Dreaming in my review of it here.

As clearly shown, Gonzalez has had a lot to think about with his musical style. He's chosen to progress towards a more mainstream electronic / synth-pop style, which I think is a smart choice. However, while he does this to garner more attention to his music, one can't really say he's selling out, because Gonzalez's music really leads to some important places and things in his life; ultimately, while moving towards this synth-pop style, he leads towards what he feels is the right direction for M83, and that's really all that matters. So, whether you're a huge "Midnight City" fan and don't know anything else about M83, or love every single one of Gonzalez's records and critique the direction he's going in, I hope you'll take some time to appreciate what this really fantastic artist has set out for the musical world of the new age.

Featured Album: Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts
The remarkable thing about this album is how spacious and ambient it is, yet how easily it affords such a beautiful sound. Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts really brings a traditional post-rock feel to M83's repertoire, with fuzzed-out guitars, synthesizers to fill in a rich atmosphere, and really great orchestration on songs like "Unrecorded," "On a White Lake, Near a Green Mountain," and the unforgettable, 14-minute odyssey at the tail end of the record, "Beauties Can Die." This album, for the sheer fact that it lies in Gonzalez's discography, warrants a listen from any of his fans. I highly recommend that any M83 fan start here to get a real feel of what Gonzalez had in mind for the early M83 sound, and where he progressed from to the present.

A sample of M83's music can be found on SoundCloud, MySpace, or perhaps

No comments:

Post a Comment