With the release of his ninth studio album, “Fantasy,” M83’s Anthony Gonzalez brings his signature widescreen sound to new heights. Building on his experiments with pulsing synthesizers and guitars, Gonzalez has cemented his place as one of the most visionary artists of his time.
Anthony Gonzalez, the mastermind behind M83, has spent the past two decades building a world of music that goes beyond mere escapism. From celebrated studio albums to film soundtracks and compositions for stage productions, Gonzalez’s work has proven his unparalleled ability to capture specific times, emotions, and places.
Drawing inspiration from shoegaze artists in the early 2000s, Gonzalez’s signature widescreen sensibilities feature massive, pulsing synthesizers that immerse listeners in a mystical awe. His experimentations in his hometown of Antibes have blossomed into a GRAMMY-nominated career, headlining at Hollywood Bowl, mesmerizing global audiences, and selling over a million units of his 2011 album, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.
Now, with his ninth studio album, Fantasy, Gonzalez’s vision is clearer than ever. “I wanted this record to be very impactful live,” he reveals. “The idea was to come back with something closer to the energy of Before The Dawn Heals Us. The combination of guitars and synths is always in my music, but it’s maybe more present on this new record than on the previous ones.”
Despite his reserved nature, Gonzalez also sought to push himself lyrically and vocally on this album, making it more personal than anything he’s done before. To capture the exuberance of his live performances, Gonzalez changed his usual recording process, opting to feel the energy of other musicians playing together after a long time away due to COVID. With Fantasy, M83 continues to transcend mere escapism and build a world all its own.
Gonzalez’s ability to transport listeners into alternate realities stems from his own quest to escape the mundanity of our world. “I’m not a fan of the pace at which we live,” he concedes. “We’re losing our humanity. So I try to create something better, whether it’s in my music or in my mind. I want to construct worlds that have little in common with society as we know it.”
To achieve this vision on his latest album, Fantasy, Gonzalez reunited with longtime collaborator Justin Meldal-Johnsen and M83’s touring keyboardist and sax player Joe Berry. They embarked on extended jam sessions that spanned almost a year, resulting in tracks like “Oceans Niagara.” The song features a siren-like synth lead interlocking with drums and bass to form a foundational groove, while Gonzalez’s masterful layering creates a perpetual crescendo of intensity.
“I wanted to create a sense of friendship with ‘Oceans Niagara’,” Gonzalez explains. “It’s like a Neu! song, and listening to it makes me envision people running, driving fast, or riding spaceships together. It’s about moving forward, discovering new worlds with a magic potion.” With Fantasy, Gonzalez continues to build worlds that defy reality, inviting listeners to escape the chaos of our modern world and enter his sonic universe.
he album sets off with “Water Deep”, a track that immediately immerses you in a galactic journey through the perfect reverb of the guitar. It’s a cinematic and emotive experience that seamlessly transitions into the adventure that is “Oceans Niagara”.
As the tracks unfold, you can’t help but wonder if this is the dawn of a new era for the genre. And if it is, then count us in. With shades of Sigur Ros and hints of MGMT, this album masterfully blends different styles and influences to create something wholly unique. It’s emotive, daring, and unapologetically cinematic, leaving listeners spellbound with each passing moment.
In “Amnesia,” Gonzalez delves into the depths of melancholy and despair with a distortion-filled exploration that grips you from start to finish. The emotion is palpable as the haunting soundscapes wash over you, leaving a lasting impression. Meanwhile, “Us and the Rest” opens with Gonzalez’s layered vocals and strumming acoustic guitar, before exploding into a moment of grandeur with mind-blowing organ and soaring strings. It’s a testament to Gonzalez’s ability to craft a sonic journey that takes listeners to unexpected heights.
In “Earth to Sea”, Gonzalez’s classic vocals propel us into a world of wonder as we dive into the deep end. The track reaches a dizzying peak before ultimately coming to a close with the line “may all of me be forgotten”. “Radar Far Gone” takes a more grounded approach, with space around the vocals that still linger from the previous tracks. It captures the vastness of the universe with a godlike presence.
“Deceiver” has a connection to history while also delivering a timeless explosion of cinematic proportions. “Fantasy” is a French dance floor gem woven with flute noises, creating an irresistible groove that invites you to dance and let go.”Laura” delivers a gentle, Luc Besson “Big Blue” vibe that’s both calming and introspective.
“Sunny Boy” keeps the journey going, contemplating the universe and our place in it. On “Kool Nuit,” the album’s jam mindset is on full display, starting off with dreamy synth pads and Berry’s serene flute before evolving into a full-blown storm of glitching electronics, fierce drums, and wailing saxophone. The track feels like a Space Age lullaby, transporting listeners to a far-off galaxy where anything is possible.
The closing track, “Dismemberment Bureau,” strips away the illusion of control over our own lives and reveals a higher power pulling the strings. The song’s heartbreaking yet overriding optimistic as fuck message suggests that acceptance of our place in the grand scheme of things can bring a sense of joy and purpose to our existence. In a way, it feels as though Gonzalez has earned a seat among the council of beings that presides over all, the culmination of a sonic journey that is both enlightening and emotionally charged.
In typical Gonzalez fashion, his latest offering “Fantasy” speaks to those who yearn for something more profound in life, something that goes beyond the surface level of our everyday existence. This is an album for the dreamers who are not afraid to embrace the full spectrum of human emotion, both the light and dark.
With his signature blend of swirling synths, reverb-soaked guitars, and thunderous drums, Gonzalez takes us on a journey that positions us as the heroes of our own epic tales. His ability to soundtrack both the highest highs and the lowest lows of the human experience is unparalleled. Through it all, he urges us to take risks and venture into the unknown, with the album’s opening line declaring boldly: “BEYOND ADVENTURE!” It’s clear that with “Fantasy,” Gonzalez has bottled up the very essence of the universe itself.
Album released Friday 17 March via Virgin Music Australia, get it now.