Listen to 5 of Gesaffelstein’s darkest songs in celebration of Halloween
Halloween has officially arrived. Perhaps more than any other community in modern history, rave culture has embodied the revelrous spirit of Samhain, the Celtic pagan ceremony whence the modern holiday originates. Just as the Celts and the Gaels engaged in darkened bacchanals, costume-adorned clubbers ritualistically flock to sinisterly themed events in the days surrounding October 31, wherein DJs compile their most ominous selections of music.
There is one artist, however, who overshadows all of his peers in his catalogue of depraved, macabre music; whose darkness eclipses the aurae of any meager contenders. Much like a phantom, this producer has lurked in the shadows throughout 2016.
That man, of course, is Gesaffelstein.
The dark prince of techno has released no music under his name since scoring the soundtrack to French film Maryland, which emerged in September of 2015. Like a specter, his touring, too has been intermittent — the aloof Frenchman remains engulfed in a umbral uncertainty, sending stateside fans into a frenzy whenever he breaks his silence with an announcement.
In honor of the shadowy figure who epitomizes Halloween, we’ve ranked and compiled Gesaffelstein’s five darkest tracks.
Originating from 2011’s Conspiracy, Part II EP, “OPR” rightfully earned the honor of becoming Gesaffelstein’s perennial opener throughout his legendary Aleph live tour. The haunting vocal modulations which pervade the track have instantly recognizable among the artist’s following due to their simplicity and sinister allure. Once these harrowing sonic wisps congregate with the composers oppressive bass lines, “OPR” achieves a character of remarkable brutality.
4. Wall Of Memories
To award any single song from Aleph a spot among the darkest echelon of Gesaffelstein’s oeuvre is no simple task. The virulence of “Obsession” and “Duel”, the formidability of “Pursuit” and “Hate Or Glory,” and the arcane lyricism of “Destinations” can, by no means, be dismissed. However, the most unsettling selection from Mike Lévy’s debut LP is surely “Wall Of Memories” which stands out in its departure from the rhythmically centric music that defines the majority of Aleph. The piece centers around eldritch melodies and spectral background layers, while understated percussion softly facilitates its progression. Supremely haunting, “Wall Of Memories” is one of three preexisting Gesaffelstein productions to appear within his Maryland score.
3. Phoenix – Bankrupt (Gesaffelstein Remix)
Gesaffelstein’s remix of “Bankrupt”, the titular track from compatriot act Phoenix’s fifth album is as underrated as it is unexpected. Surprisingly, the remix stands firmly in Lévy’s mausolean canon as one of his most macabre productions. While Phoenix’s original song is wistful and esoteric, Gesaffelstein’s caustic reinterpretation veers into a territory far from its predecessors essence. While Lévy departs from his beguilingly blithe introductory section less than a minute into its course, few listeners will be prepared for how he executes his influence into the remix. Equally haunting and beautiful, the grim revision is as much of an aberration from Gesaffelsteins signature style as it is from Phoenix’s original track.
The majority of Levy’s Maryland score has been detached from consideration from this list. When unencumbered by the structural manacles of dance music, Gesaffelstein has proven that the extent of his compositional inspirations can reach disturbing depths which overshadow the ominous nature of his dance-driven productions. When considering Gesaffelstein’s darkest works, however, it is impossible to ignore “Disorder,” the second track from Maryland, and certainly the gravest. Taking its name from the film’s alternate title, “Disorder” lives up to its moniker verily. Unified only by its atonality, the piece comprised of a horde of strident elements, defined by its psychotic discordance. Ultimately, this composition is petrifying.
“Viol” is Gesaffelstein’s magnum opus. Unsurprisingly, the song which exposed the artist to a major faction of his fanbase (including Kanye West) also assumes the role of his darkest composition. Preceding “OPR” as the lead single from Conspiracy, Part II, “Viol” is inherently menacing by virtue of its very name, the French word for “rape.” Commencing with a hauntingly shrill opening tone, the track immediately launches into one of dance music’s most violent loops. However, the violence of “Viol” is not the blind aggression of a deranged psychotic. Rather, this is the calculated, unforgiving obtrusion of a fascist legion; a controlled chaos which leaves nothing but desolation in its wake. “Viol” is perhaps the sole song that could extinguish the sun.