Tag Archives: Anthony Gonzalez

The Wall of Boolfight

17 Dec

Boolfight - Album cover (cover art by Klara Domröse)We are crossing the Atlantic Ocean today to become acquainted with Boolfight, a French Indie-rock outfit that successfully blends beat-driven synthesizers with Killers-like rhythms and melodies. The band released their new album, Feral, in November, and the inventive spread of tunes benefits from a collaboration with Nicolas Fromageau, who many of you M83 fans might know as the musician that created the band’s first two albums with frontman Anthony Gonzalez. After leaving M83, Fromageau founded his current heavy-electronic group, Team Ghost, which will release its second album next year. Adding Fromageau’s proclivity for an effective electronic sound helps elevate Boolfight’s music in the new release, but Boolfight provides a far tamer sound than heavy shoegaze electronica.

“Deluxe” has a simple 80’s feel to the opening of the piece. It’s refreshing. This is one of Boolfight’s greatest attributes. The music is not cumbersome. It is electronic easy listening. The melody is clearly defined and refreshing. The vocals, too, are clean – reminding me of a subdued Brandon Flowers. The end employs a wall-of-sound technique, but the music remains composed. At no point does it fly off the handle. There is almost a subtlety to it, and I am a fan.

“Majesty” starts similarly. The buzzy synthesizer at the song’s inception reminds me a bit of M83. Enter in some percussion and concurrent synth and the song transforms into Keane on electronic steroids – an elegant combination of pop melody and synthesizers. “Majesty” is my favorite track, and I believe that it, if introduced to the American public, it could go far. I mentioned the Killers and M83 in this post, and Boolfight molds these influences into a graceful track.

Check out the rest of Boolfight’s album

Top 10 Songs of 2011: #5: “Midnight City” by M83

27 Dec

Most of the time it takes a few albums before a band reaches its true pinnacle. Actually, most bands don’t reach this apex at all. But when bands do rise to a higher level, it is always so much fun to reap the benefits of this maturation. In M83’s case, the zenith was reached with the 2011 release of the double album Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, and specifically with the ethereal track “Midnight City.”

Anthony Gonzalez

M83 was Anthony Gonzalez and Nicolas Fromageau. Since 2004, though, it has been the baby of Gonzalez and whomever else he calls on to join him in creating music. Most consistently this has been percussionist Loïc Maurin, vocalist Morgan Kibby, and his brother Yann. For Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, Gonzalez called on Beck and Nine Inch Nails’ bassist Justin Meldal-Johnson, Zola Jesus, and even James King of Fitz and the Tantrums (remember him from yesterday’s post)?

Gonzalez took care of: vocals, art direction, backing vocals, clapping, conductor, design, electric guitar, keyboards, orchestral arrangements, piano, producer, programming, snaps, synthesizer.

I’d say he has a say in what is released. Meldal-Johnson also played a crucial role in the development of the album’s spacey and skillful feel. This is his line:

Acoustic guitar, bass guitar, clapping, electric guitar, engineer, keyboards, mandolin, percussion, producer, programming, snaps

What I am attempting to achieve in listing the credits is an understanding that Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming was put together by some very talented musicians and when a conglomerate of talented musicians produce successful work it sounds like this:

Interestingly, last year I featured “Flash Delirium” by MGMT at around the same spot on the 2010 countdown. “Midnight City” links up to MGMT’s hit slightly. They both toy around with neo-psychedelia, creative musical constructions, and heavy synthesizer sounds. But “Midnight City” takes on a dreamy electronica feel that “Flash Delirium” does not have. Music critics have labeled M83 as a shoegaze band, but, with “Midnight City” especially, I feel that Gonzalez has lifted the band beyond the conventions of that genre – immature wall-of-sound alt/rock effects and distortion – and into a realm of ambient fluidity that flows like warm water. The song is inviting, intriguing and insightful.

The first 40 seconds of the song deserve a breakdown. The very beginning of the song features a lone synth over a strung-out note. The synth in trademark M83 fashion (i.e. “Lower Your Eyelids to Die with the Sun” off of 2005’s Before the Dawn Heals Us”) tells a story. It speaks to the listener like a passionate lyric. A low bass is added into the mixture and supports this delicate combination until the song explodes with some more heavy synth, electric drums, and a female vocalists high hum. The resulting combination is flat-out magical. There is no other way to describe it. This combination will persist in the song, both haunting and inviting.

The verses feature a vocal interplay over some rhythm. The lyric is a little difficult to understand, but, in songs like this, the most important part is the melody and, well, you kind of create your own story. The video portrays their vision – an X-Men like jailbreak – but feel free to imagine what you’d like. I would like to point out one piece of poetry I find impressive:

Waiting for a roar
Looking at the mutating skyline
The city is my church
It wraps me in the sparkling twilight

Yeah, I kind of got that sense too when listening to the song. Yes, this is a little heavy-handed and grandiloquent, but, I still like the poetry.

I’m sure by now you are wondering where James King fits into all of this. He is a saxophonist, right. Well do you hear that incredible sax solo at the end of the song that plays over the repetition of the main theme. I think this was a highly intelligent touch in this song. King plays an energetic solo and it elevates the music to a new level until the fade.

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