M83 is the solo project by French superstar Anthony Gonzalez. With a world class mastery of synthesizers of all shapes and sizes, as well as an unabashed passion for the expansive and epic, M83 is one of, if not the greatest indie-electronic artist of all time. I distinctly remember the day I heard M83 for the first time, watching Much Music’s “The Wedge”, a 1-hour special geared towards showcasing lesser known / up-and-coming artist. It was 2003 and a few singles from his second album “Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts” with DIY videos were being shown in between interview snippets of this handsome, respectable chap with a thick French accent. Despite having little to say off stage, in concert Gonzalez transforms from his soft-spoken, reserved self to a dead serious, fiery-eyed maestro. Demanding the listener’s undivided attention, M83’s capturing sound is the unbridled juxtaposition of heart-breaking melody lines atop 1000-tonne drum programming and power synths.
Releasing his killer self-titled 2001 debut and aforementioned 2003 masteriece as a duo with Nicolas Fromageau (which I guess translates as “Cheesewater”, now fronting his shoegaze project “Team Ghost”), Gonzalez has carried the flame solo for 4 colossal releases since then. His most magnificent album is 2005’s “Before the Dawn Heals Us”, boasting some of the hugest musical moments I’ve ever heard and featuring the standout hit “Teen Angst” – a holy grail of aptly-titled songs. Since then he’s kept chugging along with compilation album “Digital Shades Vol. 1”, pop break-out “Saturdays = Youth”, and his most recent, a crowd-pleasing double album “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming”. Being a nostalgic individual, I prefer his early works, but there is strength and grace throughout his entire catalog. Depending on your level of preference for vocally-driven music, the amount of singing is roughly inversely proportional to the age of the album.
Over the last decade, I’ve immensely enjoyed watching Gonzalez grow as an writer, singer, and producer. Composing soundtracks for big-name movies such as “Oblivion”, guest writing with acts like Montreal-based Montag (who, by the way, has released noteworthy LPs “Alone, Not Alone” and “Phases”), offering nearly 20 remixes including one for Daft Punk’s “Tron: Legacy Reconfigured”, being featured in like every snowboard and skateboard movie from the last decade, hosting competitions for fans to create official music videos, and even holding a YouTube-based audition for a new touring member, there isn’t much territory Gonzalez hasn’t covered. I love this guy.
Favourite track: Teen Angst (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMirdNSKbho)… I draw your attention particularly to the outro’s carpal tunnel-inducing drum fill.