Weekend Rewind: Gesaffelstein – Viol
If there’s one thing that all electronic music fans can agree on, it’s that Gesaffelstein is one of the most important musicians of our generation. Before transcending the warehouse with one of the most meticulously calculated (and fleetingly existent) live performances of the year and further moving on to scoring abstract thrillers, it’s hard to imagine the fact that Mike Lévy’s music was fundamentally fringe not less than five years ago.
Though Gesaffelstein had begun to set his foundations in place two years before his seminal 2011 EP, Conspiracy, Pt.2, he was far from the iconic status he reached following the uncharted, utterly umbral territory that he was soon to define. Conspiracy, Pt.2 included “Conspiracy Origins,” which he would go on to recycle for his experimentally dystopian Maryland soundtrack, as well as his perennial live performance opener, “Opr.”
The highest carat cut amidst a mine of darkened diamonds, however, is his magnum opus, “Viol.” Every bit as aggressive as its title’s unsavory translation suggests, “Viol” redefined the international perception of French techno, punctuating simple rhythms with harrowing, dissonant interludes in lieu of energizing breaks and builds. By establishing a signature sound without deviating throughout, “Viol” struck listeners with awe the world over, and made an undying impact on the techno world and beyond. The eternal egotist Kanye West even gave unfettered autonomy to Lévy to compose two of his Yeezus tracks — “Black Skinhead” and “Send It Up” — because of his awe at the technical fortitude that “Viol” represented.
Could it be one of the greatest electronic compositions of all time? Only time will tell.