Gamma and Hyperdrama review

summary: I review Gamma by Gesaffelstein and Hyperdrama by Justice

words: ~2,600

content: mentions of sex, surprisingly



This spring has been like Christmas for French Touch fans. Since I was a teenager I've loved this genre, so I thought it would be fun to review both of the new albums that came out recently: Gamma by Gesaffelstein and Hyperdrama by Justice. I decided I wanted to do this when both albums were announced and tbh, I was a bit worried I would find nothing interesting to say about either of them. Luckily, I found myself with a lot of thoughts so there's plenty to talk about. Let's get right into it!

Note: I'm not going to review every track single track on both albums because I would be here all day. I only do that for real electronic music icons.

Gamma album cover



released 29th March, 2024

I was never the biggest fan of Gesaffelstein but you have to admit that Pursuit is the track of all time, with a slay music video to match. Because of this, I've absent-mindedly kept up with his releases for the last couple years. When the Gamma trailer dropped into my YouTube subscription box it unexpectedly hyped me up so much. I kept re-watching it while I was meant to be working lol. I've even made a button out of it! It totally worked as a trailer I guess.

Specifically, I appreciated a return to interesting visuals. The boring “me when I stand in a room next to The Weeknd intercut with random unrelated objects but I'm made of black chrome” aesthetic just wasn't doing it for me. But here we actually have a budget! And good editing! And themes! Although he's still made of black chrome I guess.

Then of course, there's the actual music. The vocals in the trailer intrigued me. Definitely taking an 80s inspired approach, which is something a bit different for Gesa. I couldn't help but be apprehensive in regards to this specific aspect though. Because personally, I am so sick of the 80s. Maybe because Capsule did an 80s inspired album, so did Allie X recently. Also Kavinksy came back lol. None of those projects are bad btw. But when I realised I was gonna have to add another 80s inspired album to the pile it was just kinda like. Ok, here we go again I guess!!!

I think it's because I have no nostalgia for the time period. And fun fact: I don't love 80s music either. Like of course there are bangers, every decade has them. But I never actively seek out songs from this era to listen to. So, actually hearing the album in full took some time for it to marinate in my mind. Mainly because the... goofiness really caught me off guard lol. This album is kinda silly! Ok let me explain.

It starts with Digital Slaves. And it kind of throws you in at the deep end. Like. Oh we're really leaning into the vocals. And the weird lyrics. Who are sung by Yan Wagner btw, the consistent vocalist for the whole album. Despite being taken aback, I found myself vibing with how intense the song is. I really like the chorus vocals too. I think it's just Wagner's vocals layered and not actually more than one person but idk. I wish this was used again in this album because it's a cool effect.

As for Wagner's vocals, his voice is super grungy and unique for sure. He can also put a lot of expression and bravado into his line delivery, which is impressive. I don't think this works for every song but an example of it really working though is Your Share of the Night, one of my favourites. It feels lumbering, but also badass somehow. I think this would have been a better single choice than Hard Dreams personally! But I definitely enjoy that track too.

Then Hysteria kicks in, which is urgent, buzzy and aggressive. But it still feels heavy in the same way as the previous tracks and not out of the blue or anything. This is exactly what you want from a Gesa song. Mania is also like this. I actually get these two tracks confused, but I kind of like how we have these two tracks with two similar ideas but existing separately in the tracklist. So you get a short lull in the mood before it picks up again. Despite this, I did wonder if it would have been cooler to combine them both into one song. I found a remix that actually does this and it goes hard as fuck, so I guess I don't have to wonder.

The Urge is um. Awkward. And btw I'm not actually a prude! In fact, those deep into the plasticdino lore will know that I have a whole playlist with songs that are literally just about sex. And in concept, the provocative lyrics here aren't terrible and more engaging to me than idk. casual biphobia. But something about this song, man. I think it's Wagner's delivery, which seems noticeably less confident than on, say, Digital Slaves. Every time I hear him sing “Red hot raw sex... work it out” I just laugh out loud every time. Even just reading it makes me do a spit take. I mean if it's meant to be funny then he totally succeeded. For me, this aspect unfortunately overshadows the rest of the song, which has that classic Gesaffelstein sound of pots and pans banging together (complimentary) before suddenly transitioning to a slower, almost pained lament. This is great, but the only thing I come away from this song thinking is how much I want to take a shower after hearing it.

Then Lost Love has this same problem as The Urge. I'm just like. Is this meant to be funny? Because this is so unserious. But I can't tell whether this is the intention or the fact that I find Wagner's vocal delivery to be goofy when paired with a song like this. Also Lost Love is less fun than The Urge because it's so low tempo. I appreciate the dive into a different mood, but tbh I don't listen to Gesaffelstein songs to like. Chill out. But that's just me. (even though he does have plenty of other songs with a slower tempo).

This is really where Gamma has me conflicted. I like the idea of Gesaffelstein letting the super serious mask slip. Because I have to say, his image makes his music intimidating to get into, since sometimes everything feels like a pretentious inside joke. Hyperion literally has a black square as an album cover. Like what am I supposed to take from that. Meanwhile, I found myself laughing while listening to Gamma, which is something I've never done before while listening to Gesa songs! On the other hand, the lyrics and visuals are all extremely symbolic and metaphorical and I feel he is trying to make a statement on something, rather than just have a bit of fun. I'm left wondering whether it's truly meant to be campy or if he's genuinely trying to be serious, just with a new 80s flavour.

And the 80s influence is there 100%. I actually like how it gives the album a really recognisable identity. And it doesn't just feel like regurgitating dark wave songs that have already been made. You can totally tell it's Gesaffelstein, just a Gesaffelstein that's been listening to a lot of Depeche mode. I think my grudge against the 80s is just a personal thing I should get over and not really a slight against the album itself.

Despite my misgivings about what vibe this album is even going for sometimes, I had a lot of fun with Gamma. This thing is also really short (just over 27 minutes!). If you're someone who hates how short all songs are now, you're gonna be so pissed off with this. However, the benefit of this is the album does not drag at all. And let me tell you, nothing is worse to me than an album that drags! When I listened to Aleph, it definitely dragged for me and being real, I never come back to it. But I feel myself running back Gamma all the time, especially since all the tracks flow well. Whether I'll still be coming back to it in a couple months though is hard to tell, but right now I'm enjoying it for sure. If you want some edgy synthpop vibes this is the album for you. And it's only going to take like 30 minutes off your life if you don't like it!

Hyperdrama album cover



released 26th April, 2024

Justice are unfortunately probably never going to outrun the shadow of their first album, but I was still curious about this new release. Justice are a group that I am extremely fond of and are one of the first acts I became obsessed with when I started getting into music. Sadly, I also have the extremely uncontroversial opinion that Audio, Video, Disco and Woman don't really hold a candle to their debut. Despite this, WWW is pretty great. I even saw Iris in the cinema and was blown away. The boys can definitely still impress me, even if Escapades left me underwhelmed.

Ultimately, the singles did not get me that hyped and I was preparing for the worst. None of them were bad songs at all, but I couldn't stop thinking about how much I'd rather be listening to something off of Cross (see what I mean about their first album?). I figured if these were the best/most exciting songs off the album then I was in for a bit of a boring listen. Maybe Kpop has ruined my perception of what a single is supposed to be.

However, when the album was finally released, I was stunned with the opening, Neverender. This song isn't breaking new ground or anything but something about the way Kevin Parker's vocals just soar over the funky instrumentation hits just right. I can't stop replaying this song, especially since it's such an earworm. So of course after this, I was a little more hyped for what was to come.

Unfortunately, Generator coming right after a track this smooth is a bit of a strange choice. I did respect how aggressive it was as a first single but paired next to such a lush intro is strange. However, this choice makes a bit more sense when you hear Afterimage, where Rimon's voice is used in a similar way to Kevin Parker's on Neverender, with it not exactly being the focus and flowing along with everything else. But it also includes some of the harsher sounds that you hear on Generator. This is another song that I've had on constant repeat.

One Night/All Night is funny to me, because it's exactly what you would expect a combination of a Justice and Tame Impala song to sound like. It was one of the singles so as I said, it's not the most exciting song in the world. But also as I said, it's a combination of a Justice and Tame Impala song. There's no way it can actually be bad. I saw a couple of people confused by the lyrics. But idk man. Tame Impala can have a weird gender moment if he wants. He's allowed. It makes the song more interesting in my opinion.

Dear Alan reminds me of Fred Falke and Alan Braxe with the cool bass and soaring synths. This makes me think the Alan in the title is in fact referring to Alan Braxe. And let me tell you this is not a bad thing because have you heard The Upper Cuts??? Even if it's not a reference to Braxe specifically, it is clearly a reference to that blissful early 2000s French House era, which I love. But there are plenty of flourishes to make it feel uniquely Justice.

Meanwhile, Moonlight rendez-vous sounds like Zenith from Kavinsky's Reborn, probably because of the sax. Interestingly, Gaspard helped produce that album but not Zenith specifically. The song isn't long enough for me to really get a grasp on what it's trying to do though. Then Muscle Memory starts like... a chiptune song? This works though, since Justice have always utilised a retro vibe. The crunchiness of it also works, since this is what I love about Cross. The way it transitions from Harpy dream to Saturnine is super cool. Although, I think it makes more sense for Harpy Dream to be part of Muscle Memory and not a separate track.

Although, this did sell me on Saturnine. No offence to Morgan Phelan, but getting guest singers like this is the way forward. Miguel's performance isn't stunning or anything, but comparing it to Phelan's flat delivery, it's like night and day. My only complaint is I wish there was just a little more to the song. It's clear they wanted the vocals to be the focus, but it feels like every other aspect of the song is a bit underdeveloped. Finally, The End is a strong... end. I think Thundercat is a good choice for a vocalist, again proving that collaborating with established artists in this way is a great next step for the group. I'm surprised it took them this long to do this honestly.

Even with some negative criticism, I still really enjoyed listening to Hyperdrama. It feels cohesive but there was definitely a bit of mystery with each track. I feel like this is what Woman should have been. A mature evolution of their sound, without throwing away the fun aspects of their music for the sake of maturity. Hyperdrama seems so much more ambitious, with weirder instrumentation and song structure. Even when it doesn't work I really appreciate how refreshing it is and how it's so fun. It seems more meatier? Idk there's more to get your teeth into and think about. But you can totally just sit back and enjoy it too.

People who were still hoping for Cross 2 after all this time are going to be disappointed, but I feel like that hasn't been Justice's goal since like. 2009. Plus, there are plenty of other artists who will deliver that kind of crunchy, intense electro you find on Cross (Everyone stream Plastic by Aira Mitsuki!!!!!!).

I definitely need to take some time for this album to marinate. Because when I first heard Audio, Video, Disco and Woman, I liked them well enough. But I've really soured on both those albums over time. Like with Gamma, I want to believe this will hold up. Even if the whole album doesn't, there's individual songs that will definitely stay on rotation (Neverender is so good!). Once again, this is a pretty short album so it really doesn't feel like a drag in any way.


Not that this was a competition, but think I actually prefer Gamma? Maybe because it's shorter so the tracklist is a little tighter. I was pleasantly surprised with both albums though. Plus, it was fun to try and articulate my thoughts for this as opposed to just going “cool album!” and moving on.

I've noticed that often the consensus whenever a French Touch artist releases a new album is either blind (often cringeworthy) admiration, or endless whining that it doesn't sound like their old stuff. For me, I always fall somewhere in the middle. Artists can't make the same albums over and over again for their whole careers, but it's important to also recognise an artist's legacy and why people enjoy their music in the first place. I think both albums reflect on their respective artists' “old sound” while adding interesting new elements, and that's why I enjoyed listening to and reviewing them!