Tuesday 30 April 2019

Review of 'Hyperion' by Gesaffelstein

This album really is dark...

Aleph was action-packed. Hyperion is oddly uneventful.

It’s been half a decade since the French dark lord of techno delivered his debut album – an unrelenting onslaught of dark industrial bangers. Even if some of the shrill synths made my ears bleed, there was a masochistic joy in the pure intensity and creativity of these abrasive tracks. It felt like it could be the soundtrack to the ultimate apocalyptic movie – one in which a terminator uprising, zombie outbreak and alien invasion all happen simultaneously.

Hyperion by contrast is much slower and much more atmospheric. Aside from the vague trap flavour of ‘Reset’ and prominent bass, it’s less modern and more retro, relying on synths straight out of an 80s sci-fi horror flick. It’s still a brilliantly evil album like its predecessor, but the slower pace and lack of freshness make it a lot less gripping. Were it the score to a movie scene, the fighting would have ended and the dust would have settled and all that now remains is an eerie barren wasteland, beautifully cinemagraphed but with not much actually going on.

You could argue that Gesaffelstein intended this album to be a lifeless post-apocalyptic soundscape – the final track is titled ‘Humanity Gone’ after all. However, this doesn’t explain why he chose to invite so many big pop guests to feature on this album. Pharrell Williams, The Weekend and Haim all provide vocals on Hyperion. Admittedly, Pharrell is the only one that actually brings any vigour to the suffocating gloominess, however were this album a true encapsulation of human extinction you’d expect it to have no vocals at all and be purely instrumental.  

Consequently, part of me thinks Gesaffelstein wanted this to be more than the eerie but uneventful record it turned out to be.