In this increasingly entropic world, what are we left to do but beg for divine intervention from the gods of music (Apollo, Athena, et al)? Maybe they’ll steal us away—at least for a little while—from the nightmarish realities we face day after day. Maybe they’ll help us remember how to forget. Music can be a balm that ameliorates despondency, grief, maybe even the fear of global demise. But brief escapist outings and frivolous diversions no longer suffice; we need a phantasmagorical adventure with no end. A soundtrack that will cradle and rock us into a very, very deep sleep.
Born in France and now based in Los Angeles, Anthony Gonzalez answers the call with his latest M83 LP Fantasy, an album that shines so bright, it should come with a special pair of sunglasses (or earbuds) to wear while listening to it. The long-running project’s retreat from reality begins with “Water Deep,” a brief tuning-up period that resembles a transmission from outer space. But in no time, M83 break open the dam of joy with “Oceans Niagara,” a song that gushes with the spirit (but not necessarily the sound) of The Polyphonic Spree. M83 sit on Cloud Nine for the remainder of the record, delightfully and gracefully floating from one song to the next. “Amnesia,” the album’s strongest composition, is a glitter-glazed celebration that grants the wish we made when we pressed play. It reiterates that music—in this case, some soft new wave—can indeed help us to forget.
“Earth to Sea” captures what it feels like to bask in the sun and returns to the theme of amnesia (“May all of me be forgotten,” goes one lyric). Absorbed by M83’s Fantasy, starry-eyed listeners explore sky ladders, hidden fortresses, writing on the clouds, and timeless suns. It’s an adventurous, exciting and, yes, enlightening foray for M83 as they challenge themselves to make each Fantasy tune more radiant than the next. When the record comes toward its close, “Dismemberment Bureau” leaves us with the refrain, “All we want, ’til the end of time / All we love, ’til the end of time.”
The album finally does end, of course—but there’s a lasting gift. We return to reality more spiritually healed than when we began. We’re still stuck in a horrendous situation, a place where we don’t want to be, but when it all becomes too much, we know we can always return—whenever we want—to M83’s Fantasy.