Mirage represents the explosive studio comeback for the German Electronic duo of Jens Moelle and İsmail Tüfekçi, better known as Digitalism. The pair are back after five long years of waiting with what is undoubtedly their most expertly crafted album so far.
Before we dive headlong into Mirage, we first need to go back and discuss Digitalism themselves because it is the link with Digitalism’s own history that makes this album so special.
With each of them being handcrafted in Hamburg, Digitalism create their albums to conform to a certain list of prerequisites. First of all, each album must contain at least one ‘mad’ song and by mad I mean that the song is composed almost entirely of sounds that would be individually very offensive to the ears, but have been arranged in such a way that the end result is actually very pleasing to listen to.
Their first album, Idealism (2007) focused on this theme of transforming madness into beauty for most of its songs but most notably is the title track ‘Idealistic’ which plays much more like a punk record than an electronic song. Four years later their second album I Love You Dude (2011) was much more subdued in sound but still featured a grungy element to complement its slightly more ambient songs. The ‘mad’ song from that album was undoubtedly ‘Antibiotics’, which by the way is one of the most adrenaline pumping tunes ever and definitely one to consider for your work out playlists.
Of course Mirage is no different and the ‘mad’ track from this one is definitely ‘Dynamo’ which is an all-out assault on the eardrums and to be honest it took me a few listens before I started to like it. I love it now though, mainly because of how it fits in so well with the rest of the albums ‘story’.
This links in to the second prerequisite that all Digitalism’s studio albums have. To me, they each tell a ‘story’ because of how their songs click so well into an overall theme for the album like chapters in a book. This is possible because of the duos mastery of pairing individual songs together so that in many cases, when listening to the album, one can barely recognize the change in song. It is as if each tune flows from one to the next to create one massive song, with gradual but prominent changes and shifts in tone and tempo throughout. That said, each song can be taken and listened to individually because they are not faded together in a way that is jarring to listen to them out of order.
Mirage is the ultimate expression of Digitalism’s pattern of album making. The way that each song is so perfectly crafted on its own, yet still perfectly fits into an overall aesthetic to form something larger than itself reaffirms my firmly held belief that Digitalism are the Swiss watch makers of the electronic music world.
This album moves slightly away from the punky/grungy sounds of Idealism to produce something a lot more relaxed. Do not, however, think for a second that the duo have moved away from their origins as you can still very much hear that every single one of these new tracks is in keeping with the overall ‘aural aesthetic’ of Digitalism.
This album perfectly showcases what we see from bands all the time; the gradual maturation and mellowing of their sound that coincides with the maturation of the musicians themselves. As people’s tastes change, it is only right that the music they make changes too, but very rarely is this evolution as smooth as it is with Digitalism.
When listening to the songs in Mirage individually in detail, one can really appreciate the effort that goes into them, they are densely layered and meticulously put together, not anything at all like the ‘cookie cutter’ approach to music that so many have shunned the electronic music scene for producing lately. Every time you listen to a Digitalism song you hear a new sound, a new layer that was woven into it.
With their popularity ever increasing, I don’t think it will be long before these two guys come into the mainstream and show the world what real electronic music should sound like! Personally I would go far as to say that Digitalism are the deserving heirs to the throne of the European house/electronic music scene since Daft Punk have put themselves on a back-burner after R.A.M.
Overall, this album is far from a mirage, it is a flourishing oasis in the desert that has become the electronic music scene lately. It truly is a refreshingly brilliant album and fits in perfectly with the sound and style that the dynamic duo have become known and loved for.
P.s – because Digitalism are such awesome people, the entire album is available to listen to on Youtube and they have even put all of the songs in a Mirage playlist to make it easier to listen to their epic-ness.
P.p.s – Here is the link to the playlist because I’m nice and want to save everyone two seconds of google searching:
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