You have to hand it to these French beat makers; they all exude confidence with an unmistakable identity to match and it directly translates to their unapologetically rhythmic powerhouses for albums. However, with Gesaffelstein’s debut album, Aleph, more confidence is put forth than Daft Punk could ever dream of.
The album’s first track Out of Line is a captivating mix of contrasting percussion elements mixed behind a track of odd and sinister vocals. It’s minimalistic yet intricately complex and confident in its power. It’s not an average EDM song, and it sets the stage perfectly for what transpires throughout Aleph.As Out of Line fades out and the album’s first single, Pursuit, kicks in drumbeats are replaced with fast paced synthesizers and the dark intent of the album is made totally clear. When the drums kick in on this one, you’re sold. It’s a pulsating adventure that straps you in for the ride of your life. The likes of such persuasion, intensity, and force haven’t been seen since Justice last released an album. Pursuit seamlessly transitions into the building and methodical Nameless. Where Pursuit is a top- speed race down a dark highway, Nameless is the rainy drive home. It’s this contrast that allows Aleph to maintain such appeal throughout the course of its 14 songs.
As the brooding Destinations chimes in, that sinister vocal track returns to let you know you’re still strapped in for a ride and you’re not getting out anytime soon. Although Destinations is unmistakably dark, it’ll make you dance to a sound you’re surely not used to hearing on the dance floor. It’s peculiar in its implementation, but it’s rhythmic nonetheless and makes room for the undeniably euphoric sensations found in Obsession. Things calm down just as the album’s title track kicks in and allows you to catch your breath before the ominous Wall of Memories begins. Don’t get too comfortable though because Duel is a frantic, bouncing, mind-numbing mess of melodies. The ominous nature is brought out to play again on Piece of Future, and then is seemingly combined with the manic rhythms of earlier tracks to make another solidified banger with Hate or Glory. This pales in comparison though to the album’s penultimate track Trans, a song that could bring out a sense of reckless abandon in the most reclusive of people. As the album’s credits roll with Perfection, a stomping ambient tune, it becomes apparent that Aleph is a roller coaster in every sense of the word.
While many of the tracks on Aleph make use of the same brooding and edgy style in sharp drum beats and gritty synthesizers, each song does it remarkably well; enough so that each track feels unmistakably different from the other. It’s reminiscent of the first time you heard Justice’s Cross in that it’s different from the same dance music we’re all used to hearing right now. Aleph is a cinematic album; you’ll have no trouble dancing to these songs, yet it still creates an ambience that is uniquely its own.There are elements of EDM, hip-hop, trap, industrial rock and more. Some songs will make you scratch your head like the overbearing Hellifornia, but it all seems to make sense within the machine that is Aleph.
Aleph is a risk-taker and the risks pay off in tremendous ways. Ultimately, it produces a sound that is going to usher in a new wave of electronic music.This album will definitely not charm everyone; it was designed with an audience in mind pertaining to those who already possess affection for electronic music. But, what Aleph sets out to do, it does exceedingly well.
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