Saturday, October 09, 2004

M83-Dead Cities,Red Seas & Lost Ghosts

Occasionally, I like to expound on something other than my boring yet bizarre life, so here's a review of French electronica duo M83's latest CD.

M83
Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts
Mute Records

Although they have been lauded in their home country and the UK for a few years now French electronic duo M83 (Nicholas Fromageau and Anthony Gonzalez) have just entered American consciousness with "Dead Cities, Red Seas and Lost Ghosts" The 57 minute CD is replete with huge swirls of synth and layered vocals. Is it New Age gibberish or coherent music? It seems the days of Brian Eno and Tangerine Dream are long gone, and aside from a few well-known groups like Mogwai, there's not much to replace them.
Gonzalez and Fromageu, along with UK synthmeisters Saso and fellow Frenchman St. Germain, counteract the mundane image of "ambient" electronic music. The 53 second intro with realistic chirping birds sounds bright and positive start with booming synthesizers that encompasses the without overwhelming then the full bodied "Unrecorded" the vocals here add to it, they are not just an afterthought.

"Run Into Flowers" begins with the familiar booming of a TV theme song, but the sturdy drumbeats give way to church like harmonium. The sheer "surround sound" production is most evident here; it's no muzak as the female vocals flit in and out between cracks in the syhnth waves til the final haunting fade out. "In Church" carries the harmonium a bit further, you can almost see the votive candles, though it grows monotonous after awhile. The eerie "America" hones in with whistling, children's screams follow, and it segues sudden rush of of frenzied sound, including what appears to be arguing couple. All this activity winds down into the peaceful denouement of swishing water and chirping birds. It keeps you wondering what you'll hear next.
"America" is followed by the plaintive "On A White Lake Near A Green Mountain" and "Noise", a wistful soundscape that doesn't resemble its title at all. "Be Wild" a playful combo of popping notes and squiggles, is truer to its moniker. With "Dead Cities", M83 manage to give shape and variety to a musical genre that is a mystery to the causal listener.