Gesaffelstein – Aleph
After producing ‘Black Skinhead’ and ‘Send It Up’ on Kanye West’s ‘Yeezus’, French producer Gesaffelstein now finds his industrial techno isn’t only of interest to those at Parisian raves but the fans of good electronic music worldwide.
If you have spent time looking at waveforms via SoundCloud or Beatport it is evident that most tracks today are competing for loudness. Across all genres, dynamic ranges have collapsed in favour for maximized volume impact – to put it frankly, everything is compressed to the shit-house!
French producer Mike Lévy who dons the stage name Gesaffelstein isn’t affraid to thrown down a techno banger, but across his 14-track LP titled Aleph, there is a concentrated focus on infusing dancefloor mayhem with hushed melodies, soul-piercing vocals isolated basslines.
Gesaffelstein competes dynamics throughout his tracks to emphasize tension. Initially chase anthem to start things off, the churning bottom-end of the aptly-titled “Pursuit” breaks to momentarily morph into an ambient techno atmosphere that harkens back to seminal acts like The Orb and Orbital.
Those ambient waves persist across the early stages of the album, until the booty-bass pops up at the start of “Destinations” which will straight up slap you in the face.
Although the title implies forward movement, the three-and-a-half minute track goes nowhere except down a spiraling hole straight to the core of dark, psychedelic-leaning, tech-house. Gesaffelstein runs a haunting vocal through the fragmented blips and deep bassline, challenging the listener to follow without becoming tangled up by the instrumentation. “Hellifornia” is rife with hip-hop influences (a great cross-over sound also embraced by fellow techno producer Boys Noize), the industrial edge of “Hate or Glory” would fit nicely within a Skinny Puppy performance, and “Duel” is schizophrenic electro at its finest. However, among all these varying dance floor sounds, Aleph continually returns to its minimal roots, finally concluding with the downtrodden electronica of “Perfection”.
With his debut LP, Gesaffelstein is not only taking aim at ending the loudness wars, he is fortifying the roots of a very successful career.