M83: Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming

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M83
Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
(MUTE)

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Part of M83’s (Anthony Gonzalez’s) appeal is that his music can’t be reduced to simple definition. In art, defying categorization is either a good sign or it’s a symptom of an incoherent concept. M83’s sound certainly tends to cohere, although the range of sensations it elicits is impressively diverse. On Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming we move through a double-album that starts as robust, clinically infectious energy. Its part of M83’s cleverness that he can embed strong vocals into his melodies; for the opening few tracks he calls on Zola Jesus, long-time collaborator Morgan Kirby, to struggle against the barrage of sound he produces. The thrilling momentum established is broken up by brief, at times unsettling, ambience pieces, like “Where the Boats Go” and “When Will You Come Home?” Two songs are never of a consistent pace: we’re entertained by a panoply of different emotions.

On the second disc, the music begins to flesh out a more perceptible narrative. The songs are intended to evoke a range of associations and memories. Thus, we move from Gonzalez’s faintly sentimental lyrics on “My Tears Are Becoming a Sea,” to the upbeat, quickening drum rolls of “New Map;” the latter is appended with a delightful flurry of woodwind and guitar chords. Few electro artists can mine conventional instrumentation for this kind of harmonic elegance. Gonzalez pulls a similar trick on “Splendor,” except that here it is a piano playing alongside choric female in something akin to a Christmas lullaby. Still, the album’s narrative arc is more biological than seasonal. As we progress to the conclusion, we gain the perspective of age. An old lady speaks of a forest in her dream: “Ce n’est pas une forêt ordinaire, c’est une forêt de souvenirs.” She looks at her hands and recognizes her 21-year-old self: “Et J’aime comme je n’ai jamais aimé.” The album’s achievement is that it creates a deeply poignant soundscape, without it ever feeling alien.

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