Darkness is more than just the token descriptor we’ve landed on to detail Gesaffelstein’s brooding, shadowy sonic products. In fact, it’s more than merely his brand—at this point, Gesaffelsteinis darkness. Though, his embodiment of it is less about the sinister undertone of his productions now and more reliant on the literal concept of light’s absence, as represented in his Coachella performance on Sunday, April 14.
In his first live festival appearance since his 2015 farewell, Gesaffelstein became the only artist to every use Vantablack VBx2, commonly understood to be the darkest substance known to man. It the the closest visual representation to the darkness of a black hole that our eyes will ever see. The substance is typically used in space applications, though Mike Lévy had a different vision for its use. When applied to three-dimensional objects, Vantablack is so dark that it becomes nearly impossible to discern any surface features, and three-dimensional objects appear to become two-dimensional. Gesaffelstein’s Outdoor Stage performance featured a monolith structure coated in Vantablack on the concave side to create the illusion of infinite depth and blackness—essentially simulating a black hole on stage.
Hot off the heels of his sophomore album, Hyperion, Gesaffelstein is taking his craft to another level of other-worldliness. Catch Gesaffelstein again during Coachella’s second weekend and then Governor’s Ball later this summer.
Released as a single from the late Hyperion, Gesaffelstein‘s first album since 2014, “Blast Off” is a testament to the sleek, high profile nature of the project. Featuring Pharrell Williams, the track’s clean bassline and airy synths drum up images of an oddly familiar, though far off futuristic world–and now there’s a music video to match.
The video jumps back and forth between close-up shots of Pharrell’s emotive singing and Gesaffelstein’s light-laced outfit. Fitting the track’s dark but effortlessly glossy style, the video takes a sudden turn, with Matrix-like sceneries growing more frightful and intense with every frame.
Gesaffelstein‘s multi-weekend billing on Coachella’s 2019 lineup marks the enigmatic producer’s first return to the California affair since his 2015 appearance in the desert. It’s only fair to speculate that Gesaffelstein will come correct with plenty of sonic tricks up his sleeve, given the amount of time that has lapsed since his last performance at Coachella. Gesaffelstein’s set, broadcasted live from Coachella’s Outdoor Theatre, follows his March delivery of Hyperion, his sophomore album.
The followup to 2013’s Aleph, Hyperion saw Gesaffelstein exploring styles distinctive from those that characterized Aleph. Hyperion invited a select number of featured artists to assist on the aesthetic expanding offering, like HAIM and Pharrell Williams. Gesaffelstein’s Weekend 1 set comes with a bonus: Gesaffelstein’s delivery of the official music video for his Pharrell Williams collaboration, “Blast Off.”
View Coachella’s Weekend 1 live stream schedule in its entirety, here.
Since erecting a series of cryptic billboards around the globe in October of 2018, Gesaffelstein has been gearing up for one of dance music’s most highly-anticipated releases of the decade. More than five years since the release of Aleph, his sophomore album, Hyperion, has finally arrived.
Michel Lévy foreshadowed his forthcoming LP’s stylistic departure late in 2018, with the release of its aptly-titled lead single, “Reset.” In the months since, he has reiterated this shift with “Lost in Fire” and “Blast Off,” his collaborations with The Weeknd and Pharrell Williams, respectively.
Bookended by two unusually melodic instrumentals (“Hyperion” and “Humanity Gone”), the album continues to explore Gesaffelstein’s new stylistic leanings. Lévy’s previously-unreleased tracks with HAIM and Electric Youth, “So Bad” and “Forever” align with the aforementioned collaborations. Both are slickly-produced pop hits likely to receive radio airtime, though the latter takes a delectably menacing turn near the end of its seven-minute run.
While the instrumental interludes “Ever Now” and “Memora” bear the most stylistic commonalities with Aleph, “Vortex” stands out as the album’s most sinister offering. Built upon harrowing synth-work and broken-beat rhythms, this selection evokes the artist’s famously menacing signature style while being utterly distinct from the rest of his catalogue.
In 2015, Gesaffelstein made history with his Aleph performance at Coachella; with his return to the festival just over a month away, Hyperion suggests he intends to leave another grandiose impact — one which will be different from anything he’s done thus far in his career.
With only a week remaining until the release of his duly anticipated Hyperion LP, Gesaffelstein has released its third single. Presumably the final song to be released before the full record is available, “Blast Off” is also its highest profile one. Featuring retro-inspired synthesis and the vocalizations of Pharrell Williams, the collaboration continues the French producer’s recent pop-leaning trend seen in “Lost in Fire.”
Though the track is more melodic and mainstream-appealing than Michel Lévy’s standard fare, it also retains more common ground with his signature industrial style than his collaboration with The Weeknd. Indeed, even his darker, broken-beat instrumental, “Reset” veers further away from the Gesaffelstein of yore.
Beneath Williams’ suave vocals, Lévy lays a framework of slick, mid-tempo bass that echoes the skeletons of his best work. And, at a time when it seems that dance music’s darkest artist may be heading toward the light, reminders of this nature serve to provide hope for his longtime fans that such is not the case.
Gesaffelstein has announced on the official track list and release date to his highly-anticipated Hyperion project, the French luminary’s debut offering on Columbia Records. Surprises include major collaborations with Pharrell Williams, HAIM, Bronwyn Griffin from Electric Youth, and The Hacker.
After teasing the new comeback album with lead single, “Reset” towards the end of 2018, another hint at the project direction was unveiled with “Lost In The Fire” featuring The Weeknd. Now, there will be eight additional new tracks to follow, landing in full on March 8, opening a new chapter in Gesaffelstein’s canon of dark, brooding techno. See the official Hyperion track list below.
Additional star power slated for the event includes Bob Moses, Joey Bada$$ and Flatbush Zombies teaming up as Beast Coast, Kaytranada, Louis the Child, MØ, Still Woozy, and many more. Governors Ball 2019 takes place from May 31 – June 2 and tickets are on sale here.