Updated: Apr 10
“The dark prince of techno,” Gesaffelstein, French DJ/Producer returns for his sophomore album “Hyperion,” and it does not disappoint. Mike Lévy’s career has ignited much admiration from diverse audiences from fans of underground electro music to fans of mainstream techno pop. The 31-year-old’s reputation is built on filthy sounds and beats which is ever-so-present in his second studio album. In the past, Lévy continues to establish himself by featuring in big name releases, which included Kanye West’s ‘Yeezus’ in 2013. With standout singles such as ‘Pursuit’ and ‘Hate or Glory,’ audiences were opened up to the French producer’s calibre as a DJ. However, there is still mystery surrounding Lévy despite working with many A-list artists. Whilst being mostly removed from the public eye as well as abstaining from social media, Gesaffelstein still manages to seize success.
Hyperion is an album set to bridge the divide between pop and underground electronic genres, in which Gesaffelstein comfortably experiments within. Many sounds within the album demonstrate a fresh aspect of Lévy’s palette. It shapes an erratic listening experience, whilst being comfortably unpredictable. “Hyperion,” the first track to establish the LP, is a quirky introduction. It features fast synth oscillations, which are repetitive, but at the same time melodic. Personally, I found this track significantly ominous and disturbing in a way, however, this table setter still invites intrigue and curiosity of what is to come next. The album is then flipped on its head as “Reset” slams the listener in the chest with an aggressive jam. Lévy captures what personally can be described as certified head-bop material. The disunity between both opening songs creates contrast which plays to the EP’s advantage, a stellar creative decision on Lévy’s behalf.
The Weekend collaboration of “Lost in the Fire,” is a light but deliciously smooth track and proves to be the album’s most popular feature. Because past projects and collaborations endeavoured by the duo, Tesfaye’s (The Weeknd’s) vocals with Gesaffelstein’s punchy rhythms, weave effortlessly. Tesafaye incorporates raunchy insipid lyrics as perusal, yet, still manages to compensate with his vocal range.
With subtle and more subdued tones, Gesaffelstein, continues with guest artists HAIM, in whom strays away from the impact seen in past tracks such as “Pray to God’ with Scottish superstar Calvin Harris. The track “So Bad,” still goes beyond expectations as the HAIM sisters’ versatile voice is perfectly pitched with Lévy’s scattering drums and warping bass. After first listen, flaws were yet to be seen, however, Neighbouring guest spot Blast Off, featuring Pharrell Williams, can be seen as one of the album’s liabilities. The track simply does not live up to expectations and feels as though it is a missed opportunity. In an effort to create a song of groove and funk, the overall beat of Blast Off seems misled and misdirected.
Contrastingly, tracks like “Vortex” and “Memoria” channel familiar ominous and brooding textures that bring out the “dark prince’s” melancholic style. Concluding the project is the marathon track “Humanity Gone” in which the track speaks for itself. The track creates a sense of Armageddon or world devastation, rightly fitted as the final track for “Hyperion” as an album.
Gesaffelstein has demonstrated that he will not be restricted or catergorised by a specific style, which as a listener, is both frustrating, but also admirable. Following past project “Aleph,” Lévy has given audiences a different piece of work that screams melodious gloom, an excellent comeback for the French disk jockey. 4/5