The days of half-decade gaps between Gesaffelstein drops are thankfully over. It has been a mere seven months since the Dark Prince of Techno’s highly anticipated comeback LP, Hyperion, and we already have a fresh new delivery from the French beat maker. This spring’s Columbia-backed sophomore LP signaled there was more to come from Gesaffelstein, which has now officially materialized as the NOVO SONIC SYSTEM EP.
The release is a six-track effort that incorporates the prolific producer’s most beloved sonic tropes—menacing, static instrumentals wrapped up into dystopian analog techno. Unlike the star-studded full length LP from earlier this spring, which featured the likes of Pharrell, The Weeknd, and HAIM, NOVO SONIC SYSTEM, finds Gesaffelstein alone in the void, offering near perfect additions to his catalog of brooding, warehouse-ready techno. Listen below.
Gesaffelstein is blessing fans with six brand new tracks, per a surprise announcement on his social media pages. They comprise a brand new EP, NOVO SONIC SYSTEM, which appears to be an entirely solo endeavor.
NOVO SONIC SYSTEM arrives seven months after his March’s Hyperion, his second studio album packed with all-star collaborations with The Weeknd, Pharrell Williams, and Haim. He later took the album on tour, including a notable performance at 2019 Coachella where he became the first artist to use the color Vantablack in his live show. No previews have been posted yet from the upcoming project, which has led to widespread speculation as to which stylistic direction he’ll be taking. NOVO SONIC SYSTEM will also be released through Columbia.
It’s October so that means mass media is seeing orange and black—and lots of it. Halloween candy is riddling the shelves and houses will soon be speckled with synthetic spider webs and lazily cut jack-o-lanterns.
But if anyone is sparking this spooky season off with devilishly delicious gumption, it’s Kim Petras. The German/Californian singer/songwriter-producer has delivered a sprawling Halloween-themed dance-horror album, second volume to the full-bodied elixir, TURN OFF THE LIGHT. Petras shared the LP’s first arm in October of last year.
Everything about this album is meant to frighten and seduce—all at once. The electro-pop/synth-wave amalgamation emulates Petras’ grueling electronic cohorts like Gesaffelstein and Justice, whose gut-wrenching synths have made them fond bookings at Halloween events around the globe. Her lyrics are precisely what a horror fan would want, with veracious titles like “Massacre,” “Bloody Valentine,” and “Knives” (the last of which loyally employs knife samples in beguiling fashion).
October may have just begun, but for those already reeling in Halloween spirit, this album will keep listeners fraught with witchy, danceable wonder.
Last night, April 21, Gesaffelstein played the second of his first two live sets in four years at Coachella, returning to the hallowed grounds where he began his extended hiatus in 2015. His ironclad return, while spectacular, left audiences still yearning for more than a mere hourlong set, leading to rampant, hopeful speculation regarding an impending tour.
Today, April 22, Michel Lévy has answered his fans’ calls in an uncharacteristically prompt fashion, with the announcement of a new US tour, “Requiem.” More characteristically, the French artist’s tour confirmation is laconically cryptic, stating only, “Against the night. Across the time. A truth, a sermon, a sacrifice.”
Due to the high-budget spectacle of his Coachella performance, it seems reasonable to assume that the forthcoming tour — which kicks off at New York’s Governors Ball in late May — will be an extension of the past two weekends’ sets. However, with Gesaffelstein, one must always expect the unexpected, so only time will tell.
Presale for the Requiem tour begins Wednesday, April 24 at 10:00 AM (PDT). General Onsale begins Friday, April 26 at 10:00 AM (PDT). Tickets will be available on Ticketmaster.
Featured image by Julian Bajsel for Coachella 2019.
Each year, California’s premier music festival outdoes itself by booking an eclectic array of artists from throughout the dance music realm alongside its smattering of other genres. In 2019, these acts spread — perhaps more than ever before — throughout the event’s numerous stages, lending the opportunity to experience the diverse roster within equally diverse environs. While there are, of course, a number of fantastic performances from Coachella’s first weekend that are not represented on this list, we’ve narrowed down 10 sets which particularly impressed us.
Anytime a Frenchman takes the stage in a metal mask, Coachella history is soon to be made. And, amid a lineup filled with prodigal artists from the festival’s past, Gesaffelstein stood out as one of the its most formidable acts. After releasing the pop-laden album Hyperion in March, fans weren’t sure what to expect from Michel Lévy’s Indio return — would he focus on his newer, more mainstream fare, or return to his darker days of yore? Once he took the stage, donned in a shimmering, Vantablack metal suit, little question remained. For the first hour of nightfall in Coachella’s final day, Gesaffelstein melded his new releases with classic favorites and overwhelming live edits, synchronized against an ominously spectacular visual production. Indubitably, a new era lies on the horizon for the harrowing luminary, and Coachella provided the perfect backdrop for its debut.
Gesaffelstein will play the Outdoor stage from 7:40-8:40 PM on Sunday, April 21.
There are few acts in electronic who better embody the descriptor of “stunning” than Jon Hopkins. The British artist’s fusion of melodic ambient with erratic techno influences would set him a cut above the rest of his class, were there anyone else in his class at all. His Coachella set, which closed the Gobi tent for the weekend, dutifully matched the quality of his catalogue. Hopkins dove into mesmerizing, cathartic live edits of Singularity, his Grammy-nominated 2018 album, accompanied by a transcendent selection of video arrangements which culminated in one of the festival’s most emotionally evocative performances.
Jon Hopkins will close out the Gobi tent from 9:40-10:40 PM on Sunday, April 21.
For years, Richard James has been one of the most hoped-for additions to the Coachella lineup. Anyone with a semblance of dance music knowledge knows that his Aphex Twin project is one of the most influential pieces of electronic music history. Because James’ last appearance at the festival, in 2008, predated the “EDM boom,” his 2019 appearance marked the first time that many recent fans have been able to see him perform. Suffice it to say, he did not disappoint. Standing before a surprisingly roomy Mojave tent crowd, Aphex Twin put forth more than 90 minutes of eclectically arresting garage, techno, EBM, IDM, and downtempo music. Piercing lasers and a hysteria of often-unsettling visuals accompanied his arrhythmic score in a chaotic fashion which demonstrably proved that Richard James’ bite easily equals the bark of his hype.
Aphex Twin will close out the Mojave tent from 9:05-10:35 PM on Saturday, April 20.
Within the techno community, Nina Kraviz’s Coachella set was likely the most polarizing of the weekend. The Russian artist and Trip label-head is known for her highly energetic DJ sets, so the confusion at her decision to break from this mold in her live show debut is understandable. Indeed, for the lion’s share of her set, Kraviz dabbled more in avant-garde performance art, interacting bizarrely with set pieces more primed for a playhouse than a nightclub. However, once the peculiar producer moved on to the techno portion in her set’s second act, the patience of those who remained was duly rewarded. Kraviz’s cerebral, thunderous dance selections were awe-inspiring to say the least. And, when paired with the unique visual components which reflected her moves onstage, her set’s climax echoed Richie Hawtin’s stunning CLOSE performance, which debuted in the same Friday closing slot at Mojave two years earlier.
Nina Kraviz will close out the Mojave tent from 10:15-11:15 PM on Friday, April 19.
Anytime Âme graces an American festival roster, they are an absolute must-see. More accurately, “he” is a must-see, as generally, Kristian Beyer performs DJ sets without his partner, Frank Wiedemann. Seeing Âme in the Yuma tent at the height of Saturday afternoon is a sensorily peculiar experience. As a benchmark of Dixon’s coveted Innervisions imprint, Beyer’s deftly crafted mixes of soulful balearic house, deep techno, and tribal club music transport the listener to after-hours parties in the White Isle or Berlin. Therefore, it’s easy to forget that the sun is shining brightly just outside the walls of Yuma’s pitch-black interior. A trip to the bathroom during Âme is a smack in the face from reality, but this just makes the imminent return to Beyer’s darkened fantasy realm all the more delectable.
Âme will play the Yuma tent from 4:30-6:00 PM on Saturday, April 20.
Undoubtedly, Deep Dish is the best kept secret on Coachella’s 2019 lineup. For those unaware, the duo, which disbanded in 2006, is comprised of Dubfire and Sharam. The Yuma tent provided an impeccable setting for this storied reunion, which Deep Dish more than duly reciprocated throughout their 90-minute set. Ranging from the house influences of Sharam to Dubfire’s favored brand of apoplectic techno, the duo’s reign over Yuma stood out as one of the tent’s most diverse — and best — sets of the weekend.
Deep Dish will play the Yuma tent from 6:00-7:30 PM on Saturday, April 20.
Charlotte de Witte
Over the past two years, Charlotte de Witte has grown from a hero of techno’s underground into one of the genre’s most sought-after acts for the festival circuit, and it’s easy to see why. During her prime Sunday slot, the Belgian DJ provided one of the Yuma tent’s darkest sets of the entire weekend — no small feat, considering her competition from ominous legends sharing the roster, such as Nicole Moudaber and Cirez D. From the moment she took the stage, de Witte plunged her audience into a uniquely aggressive realm, ensuring that all in attendance would be reinvigorated for the festivals final sets thereafter.
Charlotte de Witte will play the Yuma tent from 7:00-8:30 PM on Sunday, April 21.
In 2019, Coachella poured more resources into their preeminent onsite nightclub than ever before. The intricate lighting arrangements throughout the stage and ceiling of the Yuma tent exceptionally accentuated the deftly-curated soundsystem for each act on the weekend’s stellar lineup. With this pristine setup, Goldenvoice would be hard-pressed to find a better weekend closer than Eric Prydz. Impressively, albeit unsurprisingly, the Swedish icon artfully claimed the stage as his own during his sinister, 2-hour set as Cirez D. Prydz’s team masterfully executed the lighting system of the Yuma to its fullest potential, creating a monolithic experience which mirrored the environs of the artist’s former residency at Hï Ibiza. Though the bass often obscured the top-lines of Cirez D’s fast-paced, techno-heavy set, the aggressively sleek selections culminated in a larger than life experience, providing Yuma — indeed, all of Coachella — with the conclusion it deserved.
Cirez D will close out the Yuma tent at 10:00 PM on Sunday, April 21.
In the realm of live electronic music, an intricate visual production can be as defining (or more) an element of an artist’s set as the music itself. An artist’s decision to eschew any video or lighting component whatsoever is, therefore, quite the statement. As the sun set on Coachella’s second day, Four Tet shrugged off the visual effects at his disposal, opting to perform his entire slot in front of the Mojave tent’s black screens. With no other stimuli competing for attention, Four Tet’s eclectic selection of experimental house and garage-infused tech took center stage, leaving a masterful impact on all in attendance.
Four Tet will play the Mojave tent from 7:35-8:35 PM on Saturday, April 20.
Chances are, those who catch Bassnectar’s closing Saturday night set at the Outdoor stage at this year’s Coachella won’t be seeing him for the first time. Over the last two decades, Lorin Ashton has cultivated one of dance music’s most dedicated fanbases. And, thanks to his high-octane brand of amorphous bass music and vibrantly chaotic visual productions, bass heads will attend as many of his shows as they feasibly can. However, Bassnectar’s set during the first week proved to be a unique experience in its own way.
2019 marks Ashton’s first Coachella appearance since he performed the Sahara tent six years ago, and the rare opportunity to witness the iconic artist from a spacious, open-air crowd is certainly one to be relished. During the first week, Bassnectar’s setlist echoed performances from one of his most beloved eras, the early 2010s. Perhaps due to his relatively brief time-slot, Ashton spent little time exploring his softer, more melodic influences. Instead, he opted to put forth formidable classics from his own catalogue alongside cuts from the likes of Gesaffelstein and a visually stunning, at times political, light show.
Bassnectar will close out the Outdoor stage at 12:05 AM on Saturday, April 20 (technically Sunday).
Featured image via Coachella 2019 by Charles Reagan.
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.