M83

THIS BRIGHT FLASH

A film can tell a story effectively because of its use of audio and visuals. For a musician to pull off a work that fully emotes that of the silver screen, the artist must connect to its audience based on the quality of the journey. For M83’s Anthony Gonzalez, this is the case with his albums, part of a body of work that feels cinematic in its truest essence.

On his newest, Hurry Up I’m Dreaming, Gonzalez builds off the ouevre of a career heavily steeped in a chaotic medley of sharp twists of a severe emotional overdrive. The blend feels entirely visual, altogether highlighted in the group’s live show: Gonzalez now dons a folklore-ready beast mask at the beginning of the set, triumphantly raising his paws in the air before his band joins him onstage for the actual musical component of the set.

It’s all very disconnected, a strange melee of uncharted samples, wailing guitars, somber synths, and chamber-ready percussion. The combinations sound jarring, and they certainly can be in any other context. But it’s also undoubtedly the sound that is inexplicably soundtracking the film of many of our lives. When “Kim & Jessie” comes on, I’m taken back to my friends’ house parties and the specific moments within countless nights. The tracks hold true for some of the wildest nights of my life, but equally equate those times I’ve spent laying in my bed for hours.

Gonzalez moved to Los Angeles from his homeland of France with big dreams to score Hollywood films. He ended up in a musical project that is now into its sixth record, and embarking into its second decade. Clearly he’s done something right, and despite never moving into actual films, one could argue that listening to an M83 record is a performance that engages all the scenes, colours, and feelings that you’d have during a movie theatre screening. What’s actually laid down in a track and what’s read by the listener are completely unrelated, but generally certain threads carry an artist through, and are universally interpreted.

The childlike wonder found within these songs is intriguing, from the images of youth laid into the album jackets, to the distorted John Hughes-era sounding voices buried into the albums’ choruses. The entire project wafts of distorted childhood, whether a missed opportunity, or a chance at never growing old, like a musical voyage over London and straight on to Neverland. The neo-gothisms are cleaned up with neon lights and down-tempo synths, but the dark side in all of us looks to music like M83 to release us.

If misery loves company, then the answer is clear. “I want to be part of it, invisible even to the night,” says “Graveyard Girl”, a relatively new but now classic M83 track, paced in today’s standards. The young blood in all of us will always keep searching, and as long as Anthony Gonzalez keeps supplying the musical backdrop for life’s moments, both rare and banal, we’ll all be just fine.

 

Photography: Jess Baumung

 

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