In an era of streaming where algorithmically selected playlists provide background music and the internet provides an abundance of opportunities to listen casually, ambient music has gained a new relevance.
M83 is well-placed to capitalise on this, with a reputation for neat songcraft and kitschy AIR-influenced textures, and so DSVII is a chilled-out set of instrumental tracks that flow neatly into each other.
The record is bookended by two longer, more structurally ambitious tracks – Hell Riders and Temple Of Sorrow – and these take the form of slow builds. Hell Riders in particular, with its languid drone and intertwining guitar lines, is one of the most effective moments of the album, while Temple Of Doom plods its way to a grand climax.
Elsewhere the songs tend to focus on the interplay between a few instruments, whether it be piano, voice and flute on A Word Of Wisdom or piano and synth on Oh Yes You’re There, Everyday.
The stakes are quite low on a record like this, as the music here is almost entirely within M83’s comfort zone, but there are elements that feel transcendental. The big synthesised strings on Mirage are very powerful, and could be used to soundtrack a movie scene where the main character decides to sacrifice themselves, while Colonies pushes things in a more abstract direction with its vast expanses of sound reminiscent of Tim Hecker.
DSVII pulls off what it sets out to accomplish with aplomb: it is a pleasant album full of lush instrumentation and suites of sound that are gently evocative. If at times the record feels a little too safe, this feeling is punctured before long by an irresistibly cute melody or a chord sequence that resolves in just the right way, and the listener is drawn back into the pastel world that M83 create here.