Whether by accident or intended twisted humour, Mike Levy’s latest masterpiece – ‘Aleph‘ – was released just as the Halloween season reigns down upon us. Wrapped in mystery and allure – Gesaffelstein saturates every corner of this album with his signature sinister techno, making it feel as if one should attend confessional afterwards to absolve a secret sin.
Showing his one-trick pony, Gesaffelstien attacked this album with jagged synths and squealing high frequencies contrasted alongside oppressively heavy bass. Interspersed with expertly timed silences, Levy continues to take suspense to skin-crawling new highs with breaks that pull at ones sanity before splitting into controlled cacophony. Before turning to music Levy was a designer and it is not hard to hear the imagery in his tracks. ‘Nameless’ maintains a slow smoldering synth before layering a high-pitched tone that sounds not unlike a gnat or small winged insect circling a room. Insert the crackling burn of a fire and you can almost imagine the morbid seduction of the small creature being drawn to its consuming death.
‘Destinations’ should be called distortions. This track features so many glitchy effects that it raises that question, “was that supposed to happen?” His unexpected organisation of musical elements builds an intricate suspense that only strengthens with a vocal recitation that cuts off perfectly at the phrase, “to spite you” – like a subliminal message. Borrowing from ‘Send It Up’, his production for Kanye West, ‘Hellifornia’ introduces a squeal so high-pitched that it should be upsetting, but again, he aligns this with an unmerciful bass so overpowering that the contrast makes the result not only tolerable but insanely pleasing. The track also brings in the Bromance attitude with a slight hip-hop lean.
‘Duel’ raises the tempo and brings in a schizophrenic robot voice that would make Boys Noize smile. A simple kick drum and snare keeps the pace for a more traditional techno feel but not without including a squealing riff throughout. It’s hard to wash your hands of an album that contains such masochistic pleasure, its like being chastised for a dirty thought. Where one track ends you remain uncertain that it’s a pause or an actual break for the next track to begin. Though his sound has become iconic, he still shocks us with his dexterous arrangements that seem to feed on sinister expectation. Ending with the track ‘Perfection’ is not Mike Levy’s way of being presumptuous – it’s just fact.
HBF Rating: 5/5