Single Review: M83 – ‘OK Pal’

“It’s a full-scale event held in the distant reaches of the farthest galaxy, and everyone’s invited”

5 STARS

Digital Release: July 30, 2012

Physical Release: N/A

Though few will know M83 (or Anthony Gonzalez, if you will) by name, many will have come across their recent 2011 hit ‘Midnight City’ for it’s prominent use in the BBC’s Olympic Games 2012 coverage. Some may even know their older material, such as the epic ‘Lower You Eyelids To Die With The Sun’. So whilst “M83 – OK Pal’” may look as inviting as the back of a 90’s VCR player, the monotony of deciphering meaningless regional codes from old-time electronics is long forgotten as pillows of modern-day synths usher in a deeply reflective paradise of sound, blocking out pretty much everything else in a style so unabashedly bombastic but so subtly invigorating only Gonzalez could be behind it. Those intrigued by the spectroscopic luminescence and the multi-layered melodies of ‘Midnight City’ will be re-assured there’s more of the same erudite sonic translations carried forth onto the French acts’ new single in widescreen abundance. You feel like you’re floating through a giant planetarium as Gonzalez’s vocals slice through the textures, which are so rich you feel you could get lost in their effervescent billowing.

To kick things off, there’s a similar electro-chirp refrain as in ‘Midnight City’, quickly joined by cascading drum loops, triumphant pillars of space-filling synths and electric guitar, recalling much of the best of 80s electronic acts (New Order, Kraftwerk), with a Peter Gabriel-esque vocal soaring throughout, which feels both commanding and hypnotic. Although it’s important that we don’t tap into this too much – what M83 have borrowed from the past on ‘OK Pal’, they only add to, rather than rely upon. Instead of stringently connecting itself with collective memories of bygones and childhood abandon, it’s forms new memories that promise us we can still revive such days whilst indulging in our present, with it’s pulse-raising, spacious longing and heavily-breathing journey into the introspective. Two-thirds in, a child appears who whispers words so softly she’s not all that clear, but part of it doesn’t matter, as merely the presence of youth amidst a slowly bubbling middle-eight ready to explode into a supernova-sized climax helps the listener feel more in touch with the exhilaration and escapism of simply being a child again. 

The tones, the instruments, and all the randomised sounds used here marry together as the manifestation of a man’s profoundly carefree memories of his childhood, but since it’s not personalised, it feels open and inviting to all listeners; it’s a full-scale event held in the distant reaches of the farthest galaxy, and everyone’s invited. 

 

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