M83 has released the long-awaited follow up to his cult favorite 2007 album Digital Shades Vol. 1. Dubbed more simply DSVII, this album carries on that tradition of ambient, instrumental records, but builds on them in fascinating and new ways.
One of the first things you will notice when listening to this album is how lush it is. The melodies are grand and beautiful, ranging from vibrant string flourishes to elegant piano and choral chants in the background. It is like a full symphony is playing a movie score for you in your home.
This album isn’t like his more standard artist LPs like Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming or Junk. This album is a very different sort of journey. Modeled after a film score, this record derives influences from some early ambient synth masters like Brian Eno, John Carpenter and Suzanne Ciani, in addition to work for 1980’s sci-fi films.
To that end, it has a feel of sci-fi or a fantasy film score. The album at times feels like you are soaring through the universe on a ship to somewhere new and exciting. It also drops you into some garden thousands of years ago in a world made by Tolkien or another fantasy master. The album opener takes a little time, but once the choir and plucking guitar comes in over shimmering arpeggios and synths and the occasional chirping bird, the song takes hold and brings you to that lush garden.
“Bitter Sweetness” feels like a modern, electro-psychedelic take on Pink Floyd that continues your journey through this record.
The album evolves and takes on new directions. “A Taste Of Dusk” feels like it could be sending you on a journey around Hyrule Field in Legend Of Zelda or on your way to Cerulean City in Pokémon with the follow up “Lunar Son” carrying you down the same path.
“Temple Of Sorrow” closes out the record, wrapping all of the sci-fi and fantasy elements into one soothing finale. Some records by touring artists can feel thrown together and random, but this has a thread from start to finish. It is complete and delivers from start to finish.
DSVII is a masterful take on the sci-fi and fantasy musical genre that often is used as a marketing material without attention paid to its impact on society. It pays tribute to the greats, but also adds something new and futuristic to the cannon.