M83

M83, and Before the Dawn Heals Us (Mute)

ACL Music Festival Reviews

M83

(Mute)

M83

Before the Dawn Heals Us (Mute)

France is where robots come from. M83, the former duo that's been reduced to one programmer – Anthony Gonzalez – is evidence. Cinematic and, at times, too grandiose, M83 is all about the big picture: airy synths, ticky-tack beats, and simple melodies. In 2001, when Frenchman Nicolas Fromageau was still around, the two built their self-titled debut, newly reissued by Mute. Like watching a Wong Kar-Wai film on a moody night, M83 starts off with the echoing, mumbling pianos of "Last Saturday" and moves onto the glittery computer love of "Violet Tree." Equally enrapturing is "Caresses," where drone reminds you to look up sometimes. Much like compatriots Air, M83 clutters each track with whispery synthesizers and Casio beats. Sophomore follow-up, 2003's Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts, took M83 to brilliant conclusion: My Bloody Valentine meets German tech maestro Ulrich Schnauss. Earlier this year, M83 dropped Ghost follow-up, the prog-titled Before the Dawn Heals Us. By now, the river of pixels is running dry. The album is weak on both melody and, well, everything else, dreary laptop wizardry failing to keep you from nodding off. Like a botched Virgin Suicides soundtrack, from the opening New Age ode "Moonchild" to "Don't Save Us From the Flames," Dawn needs substance like Stevie Wonder needs a piano. "Safe," a delicate moment, is not enough to save things. Let's hope the credits won't soon be rolling on M83. (Sunday, 1:45pm, Heineken stage)

(M83)

***

(Before the Dawn)

*.5end story

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