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[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts
Mute Records

Rating: 9/10 ?

October 1, 2004
I think I may have already used the Steven Soderbergh remaking of the Stanislaw Lem film Solaris as a visual reference in a music review, but the highly contrasting cold/warm feel of the detached space drama would accompany M83's Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts as well as it would any album. Like doctor Chris Kelvin's desperation visit to the marooned explorers writhing in the erotic pain that wasting away in space holds, M83's tracks are haunted by specters of recognition that flit about in the vast, silent vacuum of space. The term "soundscape" is perfectly applicable here, where beauty and bleakness coexist in a violent but gentle universe, symphonic orchestrations droned out over the cheesy beats of 1980s techno. To say M83 sound like Múm copulating with National Skyline wouldn't be to lie, nor would it be to suggest Radiohead infested with the Polyphonic Spree, but to imagine the expanses of Godspeed You Black Emperor! if they'd been baguette-eating Krautrock dweebs might paint the most accurate picture.

Sci-fi horror and glitchy suspense aside, perhaps the most choice visual accommodation for the French electronic duo's North American reissue by Mute would be an equally chilly hour of footage from the wreckage of the September 11th destruction of the World Trade Center. Tracks like the hyper-real "In Church", with its sweetly sinister organ and reverberating vocal chorus twisted throughout an architectural mine field of noise. Washes of vaporized melody waft through the track like clouds of dust and debris, obscuring the distance and dulling the sharp, pained breaths of the songs details.

The ambiance is decidedly cold and clinical (Anthony Gonzalez and Nicolas Fromageau are digital musicians, after all) but the history of M83's composers as guitarists assure that there is a heavy organic undercurrent running through the synthesized sounds. There are a number of human voices on the album (Cyann of Cyann & Ben is one of several guest vocalists) but they're exclusively processed, filtered through digital devices to render them ominous and detached without completely destroying their humanity. The re-working of the warm elements gives this album a monolithic coldness that never quite lets up, even in the relatively isolated lulls; you can almost hear oxygen generator fans buzzing just below the surface at all times.

Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts is gargantuan affair, an album that assumes a looming quality not only by the overdriving ambition of its elements but also by the seamlesness of it. Tracks have their distinct personalities but there are no distinct breaks; the revved-up dramatic panorama of "Cyborg" separate but equal to the flat drumming and dance club synthesizers of "0078h". M83 have unfurled a lengthy masterpiece of futuristic bliss, but they have dotted its infinite backdrop with a saturation of fine grain details that make it seem fleeting. When an album manages to do that, eclipsing its own image with a different angle of itself, it can hardly be taken lightly.

Reviewed by Eric J Herboth
Eric J. Herboth is the founder, publisher and Managing Editor of LAS magazine. He is a magazine editor, freelance writer, bike mechanic, commercial pilot, graphic designer, International Scout enthusiast and giver of the benefit of the doubt. He currently lives in rural central Germany with his two best friends, dog Awahni and cat Scout.

See other reviews by Eric J Herboth



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