Hyperion fails to reach the depth or drive of Mike Lévy’s previous work.
Named after a Greek Titan (or a street in Los Angeles), Hyperion cast a looming shadow long before it arrived. On his debut Aleph, fame-shy French producer Gesaffelstein pounded his way into sonic consciousness. That album’s rumbling basslines (“Destinations”) and aggressive instrumentation (“Pursuit”) established Mike Lévy as a producer with fresh and ferocious ideas for the dancefloor. As such, expectations remained high for his follow-up project, which arrives six years later. Unfortunately, it fails to reach the heights promised by its own name.
As it opens, Hyperion strums along at an urgent tone and pacing, but the effect fails as the title track never develops into much else. Lévy’s prior menace peeks through the aforementioned track and the following “Reset,” but it comes cloaked in unremarkable progressions which often fail to pan out. At least two of the 10 minutes in “Humanity Gone” could go towards lending “Ever Now” a bit more room to expand.
That’s not to say the shift towards more melodic soundscapes is entirely bad. As it turns out, the track with the least star power, “Forever,” shines the brightest. Electric Youth’s Bronwyn Griffin’s wispy vocals float above the droning basslines typical of Lévy’s work until a glitchy breakdown arrives to finish the track off. It manages to be accessible without sacrificing the quirks that set it apart.
Meanwhile, tracks with Haim, the Weeknd and producer favorite/crossover factor Pharrell Williams shift Lévy’s focus towards accessibility, thereby losing the uneasy edge listeners expect from his work. The vibrations and clangs of his past are replaced with steady, inoffensive percussive elements. “Lost in the Fire” lyrically and sonically resembles almost everything you’ve ever heard from Abel Tesfaye. The Haim-assisted “So Bad” emulates something like “Teenage Fever”’s ambient style of hip-hop to decent effect, while “Blast Off” veers towards Daft Punk. While both songs adequately embody other artists and genres, they also struggle to set themselves apart. Once the featured guests run out, it becomes Lévy solely shuffling towards the ending with three tracks that might as well be combined together into one.
Lévy once remarked that he considered using “dark thing(s) to make people happy” as a victory. When he finally determines how to do the same with the lighter side, he’ll stand to celebrate another.