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Thursday, August 12, 2004

Review - Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts

Artist: M83

Posted on Thu, Aug 12, 2004 at 4:00 AM

It's good to know that when I move my family to France on Nov. 3 (or whenever Bush announces his inevitable "state of emergency" election suspension), that my new socialist neighbors will be making some good music. Taking up Air's abandoned gauntlet of intergalactic Gallic atmospherics, M83 (Anthony Gonzalez, occasionally accompanied by Nicolas Fromageau) shatters whatever preconceptions you might hold about "French disco" or a loss of the European ethic of total-noise-freakout. Originally released in France last year, this reissue of the Antibes "group"'s second album is fluffed out with five bonus tracks and two videos, but that's not what's important. What truly matters is the sublime energy of the dozen tracks that comprise the original album, as every song here is an exercise in fractured melodies and exploded rhythms, all wrapped in warm and prickly sheets of keyboard/guitar noise. Drones abound and mondo-distorted "vocals" ("0078h" is the sound of your worst cybersex-malfunction nightmare) only occasionally show. (Some tracks, like "Run Into Flowers," attempt to employ fairly standard structure and vocals, but even those are beautifully derailed by oceanic washes of sound.) Blips and blasts of wrongness occur with alarming frequency; "Unrecorded" is littered with inappropriate clicks, while the inevitable crescendo of "America" is abruptly interrupted – for a half-minute – by what sounds like somebody washing their hands. Dead Cities is a fascinating agglomeration of multiple aesthetics and ideas, with conflicting theories of aggression and beauty and gentility and robots and nature and noise coming together to make a soothing racket that's absolutely inspiring.

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