Mike Lévy, professionally known as Gesaffelstein, is arguably one of the most mysterious figures in the music industry today. The French producer and DJ has chosen to live in the shadow of social media for years, remaining in the backdrop of the scene while still managing to work alongside some of hip-hop’s largest names.
In 2013 he co-produced “Black Skinhead” and “Send it Up” on Kanye West’s Yeezus, in 2014 he collaborated alongside A$AP Rocky, and just last year continued his work with The Weeknd on My Dear Melancholy. Yet still, his much welcomed debut album Aleph has been regarded as his best work, identified as one of the most tantalizing forays into industrial Techno – highlighting the artist’s laborious use of analog synths and woeful soundscapes. While we waited eagerly for the artist’s next project, it wasn’t until November of last year that he scored a record deal with Columbia Records, releasing a variety of album singles such as “Reset,” “Lost in the Fire,” and “Blast Off.” Now, after a nearly 6-year hiatus, we finally have his darkest and most ambitious album to date, Hyperion.
While many expected the new album to turn heavily into Pop genre territory, it ultimately succeeds in retaining Gesaffelstein’s iconic sound while still dabbling into a niche side that’s commercial – he doesn’t shy away from his signature use of analog synths and basses as well as white noise additives. “Forever,” which enlists The Hacker & Electric Youth, for example, sounds straight off of the film Drive’s soundtrack – bringing forth a retro-infused entrée that fits well with the lush vocals of Bronwyn Griffin. This carries through with his collaborative tracks with The Weeknd and Pharrell Williams. Yet still, the infamous Dark Prince doesn’t hesitate in showcasing his tour de force industrial sound.
Tracks like “Reset,” “Vortex,” and “Memora” highlight Lévy’s triumphant melancholic soundscapes in a superbly nightmarish way, employing a variety of skittering synths and brain-shaking bass that take us back to the Aleph-era. The title track offers audiences a taste of more disco and dance-oriented territory that is renown from his Lyon, France origins. Arguably the most ambitious track on the album, however, is the 10 minute and 42-second cut “Humanity Gone,” which seems to delve into a form of story-telling so deep and abstract as if to be considered modern classical or operatic music.
Regardless of whether you’re a die-hard cult fanatic of Aleph or a fan of his pop-infused works, this album has a taste that every fan can appreciate. You can listen to Gesaffelstein’s sophomore album Hyperion below.
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