M83 – Before The Dawn Heals Us

M83 - Before The Dawn Heals Us“Cinematic” tend to be a word over-used when people talk about music. Most of the time it simply means a band has gone and gotten an orchestra to play over their music. The other time is when songs have movie vocal samples in them. It’s a pretty standard way of getting a “cinematic” label, or the even worse “the soundtrack for a movie not yet been made”. As much as I hate those phrases (lazy journalism) I’m going to use both of them. Hey, I’m lazy and I’ve been called a journalist once. That person was mistaken at best, but hey that’s my excuse. M83 recorded one of my favourite albums ever, “Dead Cities, Red Seas and Lost Ghosts” (see Top 10 Albums). It was a heady mix of synths, electronics and howling guitar feedback. It was overblown, maybe even pretentious at times, but I fucking loved it. In 2005 the duo became one member Anthony Gonzalez and he made maybe a more cohesive album, “Before The Dawn Heals Us”. It doesn’t mess with a winning formula, except with the addition of some vocals, it’s very much the same group that made “Dead Cities…”

The single “Don’t Save Us From The Flames” is an example of the much more focused sound this album has; instead of blasting us with feedback for the entire length of the song, Gonzalez keeps us waiting until the very end of the song before unleashing a howling burst of white noise. Altogether the sounds are much more lush and delicate. One criticism of the previous album was the robotic, mechanical sounds that held it together. Here, the synths and keyboards sound softer and more melodic. On “Farewell/Goodbye’ this is combined with low-key vocals to make the album’s most melodic track. “Teen Angst” uses a ghostly chorus and a fizzing synth line to create a beautifully uplifting track (watch the trailer for A Scanner Darkly for this track). It’s not all sweetness and light, the sample driven “Car Chase Terror” does exactly what it says on the tin. The frantic ravings of the threatened mother at the start are creepy enough but then the dense noise comes in with the drums and makes a “cinematic” atmosphere (told you it was coming). “*” is similar, but has a pulsing keyboard riff and “A Guitar and A Heart” follows a similar style.

My favourite track however is the epic “Lower Your Eyelids To Die With The Sun”. Like the best M83 tracks it builds up, fairly quickly before a massive drum fill comes in, (like the one’s Phil Collins used to do in the 80’s). From then on in, it’s almost 10 minutes of sheer beauty. The layers of sound just sound massive, the drums seem to fail towards the end making the track seem like an act of desperation. Once it’s over, you’re just devestated. Overall, I’d have to say “Dead Cities…” is a better album, but “Before The Dawn Heals Us” is still a special album.

M83 – Teen Angst:

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