An organic ensemble of synthetic sounds
DSVII, or Digital Shades Volume 2, is M83’s latest release and offers a tranquil compilation of instrumentals to follow up Digital Shades Volume 1 released in 2007. The record is packed with luscious, nostalgic textures heard on tracks like “A Word of Wisdom” or “A Bit of Sweetness,” and acts as a testimony to M83’s versatility as an artist.
Anthony Gonzalez, the creator of M83, has made the radio hits. He’s proven himself a masterful dance/shoegaze producer with records like Saturdays=Youth and Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, while DSVII showcases Gonzalez’s ability to quiet his sound and create an intimate record. The project elicits a sense of melancholic nostalgia as it uses retro synths, vintage sounds and intentionally sparse percussion. It’s thematic and introspective, best suited for nights of solitude and reflection.
While Gonzalez is known for blending elements of rock into his production, DSVII is primarily an electronic-driven record that revolves around piano and synth melodies reminiscent of classical music. The consistently soothing theme of the record is only disrupted on a few tracks. Gonzalez’s propensity to make climactic songs is prevalent on previous records, especially heard on his 2005 release, Before the Dawn Heals Us and DSVII pays tribute to his past with a few distinguishable, swelling cuts from the record.
“Lune de Fiel,” one of the most dynamic tracks on the record, embraces various elements of funk, rock and electronica. It employs impressive drum rolls to shift the otherwise static energy heard in the first half of the record into a more propelling mood. The song holds similarities to M83’s older themes, especially heard on the 2005 track “Moonchild.”
DSVII is an organic compilation of songs that naturally ebb and flow together with shifting energies, spaces and themes. His production is atmospherically sparse on one song and then pulsating in the next. The record does gradually increase in vigor and concludes with the epic finale, “Temple of Sorrow.”
The versatility of the record benefits the distinctly different sounds displayed throughout. Without the interspersed, pulsing songs like “Lune de Fiel” or “Feelings,” the softer tracks like “A Word of Wisdom” or “Jeaux d’enfants” wouldn’t retain the welcomed and calming relief.
It’s a record that begs to be listened to… and then listened to again.