M83 Create hazy, Heady Soundscapes in the Long Hours of the Sunday Sun at This Year’s Latitude Festival
Photography by Thistle Prince
Kids grinning from ear to ear are perched on their parents shoulders as the Sunday sun sets on the Obelisk arena at this year’s Latitude festival. There is a profound ambiance about the crowd as M83 arrive on stage to begin their set and the hazy, far-out soundscapes fill the air. There’s a perfect no pressure atmosphere whenever M83 hit the stage, their music sits in the middle ground between upbeat and dancey and soothing, perhaps almost meditative vibrations. Their sound is whatever you want it to be, whether that’s a calming remedy for the soul or something to bounce around to. There’s a place for everyone.
The French electronica group captained by lead singer Anthony Gonzalez, took to the arena this year for an hour long set and the band seemed to loose themselves to their music. One song blended seamlessly into another with several of the tracks largely being fully instrumental seemingly doing away lyrics all together. Their sound was uninhibited and mesmeric echoing out like a soundtrack for a film. It was something akin to the likes of Explosions in the sky, dreamy, and utterly captivating. Their slick enchanting catalogue of albums translate beautifully onto the Sunday stage and make for an otherworldly experience of musical transcendence.
At the centre of the stage Gonzalez was joined by co guitarist and bassist Jordan Lawlor. The group smoothly switched between instruments creating an eclectic sound; guitars, synthesisers, and thunderous percussion, it seems that there isn’t an instrument that they couldn’t play. Songs ranged from their 2011 album Hurry Up We’re Dreaming with the shattering ‘Outro’ and of course best known ‘Midnight City’ to their most recent releases from the album Junk. ‘Do it Try it’ featured alongside ‘go!’ to create a set that was uplifting and bouncey as well as sobering and profound. ‘We Own the Sky’ made for an additional delight with its heady ethereal vibes though the set ultimately culminated with the band’s earlier masterpiece ‘Outro.’ Ironically ‘Outro’ begins with a long intro consisting of a wobbly, synth-string progression that projects throughout the length of the piece. Coupled with simple but profound layers of triumphant synthey vibrations and the distant, barely audible vocals of Gonzalez the song is the sound of euphoria. It is what one might imagine ringing in the ears when enlightenment is achieved and is shattering in its raw profundity. It is something akin to the likes of later pieces by the Cocteau Twins bound together with something similar to Grimes’ earliest work. Dark, electronic and moving; alongside ‘Midnight City’ ‘Outro’ will always be an M83 classic.
Aside from enjoying the artistry of the set in front of me I spent a good ten minutes of the show rooting around in the grass in front of the stage after Jordan Lawlor rather unsuccessfully tried to launch his guitar pick into the crowd. It caught on the wind and bounced comically off of my forehead and landed just a couple of feet away from where it was thrown. A couple of super fans in the crowd were desperate for that pick and pleaded with me to go and venture into the grass to fish it out so I went on a mission for it scrabbling around in the photo pit for a tiny token of the set of a century.
Who wouldn’t want that pick though? M83 are after all a monumental musical talent and the impressive turn out at the Obelisk arena comes with good reason. The band’s historic catalogue of synthy astral sounds is utterly intoxicating, the sheer depth of which is impossible to really comprehend. Atmospheric soundscapes coupled with addictive dance hooks leave M83’s set in the space between trance like chill-out and up beat dance floor filling club anthems. Quirky robotic French vocals and an expanse of crunchy retro noises and dreamy obscure sounds make M83 top of this year’s list of must sees. The group are set to continue their tour this year with one precious date in London on the 23rd of November so get your tickets in swiftly! Other tour dates include several stops in Europe and then on to the US. Follow the link below for full information on upcoming shows.