Sunday, March 29, 2015

Adventure | Madeon


★★★★★

At only 20 years old, French disc jockey and producer Madeon can already be considered accomplished. Born Hugo Leclercq, he has worked with Lady Gaga and Ellie Goulding, opened for the abbreviated North American leg of the Lady's Born This Way Ball tour, and released multiple solo tracks before opting for a full-length debut album. Adventure drops at the very end of this month, with thirteen brand new tracks on its standard pressing.

Madeon doesn't utilize a typical electronic dance format, which normally relies on a slow but steady build-up that gives away to a monstrous breakdown. Instead, his songs take flight just seconds in with exhilarating synths and beats. He is unlike any of his kind; he weaves technicolor magic into each second and invites listeners to join his journey through a vivid utopia, as if Adventure is a 40 minute piece of modern day program music. He carves a shallow valley in his lavish soundscapes only when necessary to allow space for vocals to peak through. 

The album's introduction track, "Isometric," features spirals of dreamy synthesizers that fluidly lead into the Kyan-assisted "You're On." While not as established as a few of the other acts featured on this album, Kyan impresses with sensual vocals normally suited for rhythm and blues. As the production of Bastille's second studio album is underway, Dan Smith has taken a quick step away from the band to make a solo appearance on "La Lune." The track is his first venture into the world of electronic dance, but his vocals make themselves comfortable midst the airy synthwork. Likewise, Mark Foster abandoned the People for a solo vocal performance on "Nonsense." His track, however, is grittier to match the quality of his voice.

Following the footsteps of Calvin Harris, Madeon can also act as a one-man band; on many tracks, he takes the role of the sole songwriter, producer, and vocalist. His voice is rendered unrecognizable on "Zephyr," and on "Beings," layers of vocals intermittently fly off into crazy ad-libs. On "Home," his voice is blurred into the thick forest of production. The song was created in a time of discouragement as Madeon questioned his place in the industry; at one point, he sings, "If I could try a little harder, I could succeed. I'd rather give up and be happy." Luckily, he pushed through and crafted an impressive body of work.

While Madeon packs in some great vocal features and even throws his own vocals into the mix, the production is what drives this journey. His earlier production credits on other artists' tracks wowed listeners, but when he is left to his own devices, the extent of his talent is revealed. His six and a half minute pièce de résistance, "Technicolor," is pushed to the back end of the deluxe pressing, but it is a fair representation of the grand productions Madeon can orchestrate. Listeners have a lot to look forward on this record, so take a deep breath and get ready for a spectacular Adventure.

Adventure will be released on March 31, 2015 under Columbia Records. It can be streamed for a limited time on iTunes Radio First Play.

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