M83”s ninth studio album, Fantasy, is a beautiful conundrum.
The album is filled to the brim with rich, sweeping synths and deliberate, thought-provoking imagery. Listening to this record is almost like watching a movie play out, the hero’s journey unraveling as we travel from song to song. Each new track feels like one piece of a giant, meticulously planned film score. You can’t help but be swept away as the band guides you through the narrative.
Songs “Water Deep” and “Oceans Niagara” set the scene for the grand storytelling spectacle, almost acting as the backdrop for the rest of the album to build upon. The combination of tunes “Us And The Rest” and “Earth To Sea” set our protagonists in motion, leading them out into the unknown drama of “Radar, Far, Gone.” The swift movement of later songs like “Fantasy” and “Laura” give our characters the strength they need to eventually face their fears in the dramatic setting of “Kool Nuit.” After their epic showdown, the group can finally return home to a familiar sound found in “Sunny Boy Part 2”—though you sense a change has come across the crew, evident in the outro song, “Dismemberment Bureau.”
As I listened through Fantasy again and again, I slowly began asking myself a question: “What is this really all about?”
The deeper I dove into the record, the question came up more and more. “What story is M83 trying to tell?” Clearly there had to be some inspiration for the plot, some narrative that could be found by traversing the depths of Google or watching hour-long interviews with the band. Everything I had been presented felt so calculated, so vivid.
To my absolute surprise, there was nothing. No story. No plot. Not even an overarching theme that could explain the entire narrative I had witnessed while listening through the album. In fact, M83 had specifically made the record by jamming out in a room full of musicians, assembling those jams into songs, and collecting them into one work. The whole story I had created was just that, a story I had made up myself.
This realization completely floored me. Fantasy is such a lush and vibrant piece of artwork, yet at the end of the day, it’s pretty much a blank canvas for the listener to fill.
With Fantasy, M83 continues to cement themselves as explorers in the way we experience music. There are very few, if any, other artists working today that can create the building blocks of a story, place it in front of you, and let YOU piece it together. This band fucking Inceptioned me! That’s crazy!
So, if you find yourself in need of a little creative inspiration this week, do yourself a favor: grab your headphones, throw on this record, and build your own Fantasy with the help of M83.