Before the Dawn Heals Us is the third album from M83 and essentially the brainchild of Anthony Gonzalez, who resides in the seaside town of Antibes, France. Like its two predecessors – the eponymous debut (Gooom, 2001) and it's follow up, Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts (Mute, July 2004) – it's a huge and epic attempt to use music to transport its audience well beyond their immediate environment. This is a sound that is deliberately colossal like the galaxy the band is named for and a sound that is as likely to recall Mussorgsky as Mogwai. It soars effortlessly of the ties that bind it to everyday existence and evokes a sense of freedom that can usually only be found in drugs, sex or – for the more pure – meditation. What makes it all the more astonishing is that M83 have found a way of doing this that hasn't really been tried before.
In the wave of bands that followed Mogwai (who themselves were hardly the first to provide epic soundscapes in which their audience could lose themselves) it was the guitar that was king, swathes of effects-laden noise creating an aural opiate haze for rock fans. Across town you could find fans of dance music indulging in similar activities, except that they were losing themselves in machine and pill induced trances. M83 are arguably the first band to successfully cross that divide, using the kinds of cheap synthesisers that propelled dance music alongside the guitars that they grew up with as fans of Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine. As the influential US website Pitchforkmedia.com succinctly summarized of M83, "the sounds that have constituted some of the most vapid, hedonistic, and forgettable music of our time have now returned to make us cry.