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Dec 23, 2013

 

Gesaffelstein

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Aleph
(Parlophone) 

   It is the year 3000. Electronic dance music has taken over the world (Like we all knew it would). The only entertainment exciting enough for this new civilization is for countries to pit native electric DJs against those from other nations. While this is a completely (plausible) hypothetical situation, I would like to think that the French would come out on top (for once). Instead of the white flag, these sub-toting, laser-blinding performers have proven to the world that what France has lost in reputation in war has been made up one hundred times over in EDM artist skill. From Daft Punk to Justice to Madeon, France has established quite a list of DJs, and Gesaffelstein has poised itself to enter these hallowed ranks. However the ghostly, repetitive beats are not for the faint of heart. Just listening to the title track of this record leaves one with a feeling that all those scary movies that you've been watching the past few weeks might not be so hocus-pocus.

   Honestly, Gesaffelstein is very simple, but therein lies the brilliance. You may have trouble pronouncing the name, but with a little clever deduction (and wikipedia) you'll very quickly learn that the name is a "portmanteau" of "Gesamtkunstwerk" and "Albert Einstein"'s last name. I am actually quite convinced that all three of these were made up (one of them has twerk in it, c'mon), but I have been told otherwise (thanks internet). The phrase portmanteau simply means that it is a combination of the two concepts, Gesamtkunstwerk being the german word for "making use of many art forms" and Einstein being that dude with the relativity and stuff. I'll leave the rest of up to the imagination, but it probably means that this man is not only a phenomenal artist that has produced two tracks along side Daft Punk off of Yeezus, the most recent (see: at time of writing) and also best (see: my opinion) album by rapper Kanye West, but he's also probably really good at math.

   You may be asking yourself, what is the Frenchmen's obsession with Germany? Gesaffelstien is a combination of two german things. Aleph, his first full length album, was released in October under Parlophone records, a very notible German record label that plays host to a crazy amount of talent (Chromeo, Coldplay, Gorillaz, Siguir Ros, Two Door Cinema Club to name a few). Even the vibes given off by this record scream German efficiency with factory-floor sounds in ‘Values’ that one might only find in a VW compound and or in bellowing man-sounds found in the throat of a workmen in ‘Out of Line’. In ‘Pursuit’, aside from having one of the coolest music videos I have ever seen, the tempo rockets up in theme similar to most chase movies, but combines what sounds like a man banging on an anvil with technological beats as his soundtrack. This is astonishingly a pretty decent representation of the entire record. Like some well oiled-german machine, Gesaffelstein hits you like a volkswagen driven by a beautiful French rock-god, leaving you with haunting feelings, gasping for air.

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   The album draws its strength from rhythm much like a norse-god draws strength from thunder. With Earth-shattering vibrations to rapid-fire tones, the album delivers a high-tempo but well-paced performance that could only have been a product of a German-inspired French master-mind that inspires so many more hyphenated adjectives. There is a decent balance between spectral and explosive within the contents of Aleph that keeps driving listeners on, daring ones confidence to rise until you reach ‘Perfection’. Overall, Aleph takes its electrifying French roots and pulse-pounding german influence and does not give up its onslaught of chilly, atmospheric genius. Maybe we can all ask Santa to bring the a live performance to the Twin Cities this year instead of tube-socks.

Zach Simon