Aleph floats somewhere in the top 5 on my mental list of the best albums released in 2013, and now that I’ve seen him live, Gesaffelstein holds a similar position in my ranking of DJs.

I don’t have paragraphs of objective reasoning to offer in support of this statement. My regard for Mr. Levy’s particular brand of showmanship might not even be wholly rational nor completely musical in nature. But if you find any of the following points particularly appealing, be sure to check him out:

  • He wears a monochromatic suit, no tie, with the dress shirt buttoned fully to the top.
  • He pulls off a suavely disheveled look in a way that only the right type of French person can.
  • He looks good smoking a cigarette, and does so, in abundance during his set.
  • He doesn’t address the audience unnecessarily (there isn’t even a mic present for such use).
  • He doesn’t wear a helmet, mask, or any other type of would-be mysterious identity concealing device (no disrespect to certain others who do, but it’s sexier if you can achieve mystique without gimmicks).
  • He doesn’t play to popular tastes in his mix (you might actually hear/learn something new).
  • He (musically) walks the line between subversion and mass appeal in a unique manner.
  • He reminds me of Trent Reznor in the best way possible (combining heavy analog synths and industrial elements with a sleek danceability).
  • He has a signature that’s strong enough to be immediately recognizable, even in a DJ set where his own work is not at the forefront.

I only hope he can maintain these qualities in the face of mainstream commercial and critical success. Once upon a time I felt similarly about Justice.

Gesaffelstein at The Hoxton in Toronto on August 1st, 2014.

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