The first time Gesaffelstein bothered my consciousness was when I was sent a promo single of his track ‘Pursuit’ earlier this year, accompanied by a press release that contained minimal information about the artist on one side of the A4 sheet, while every inch of the other side was taken up with a striking black and white image of the man behind the music, the Paris-based techno DJ/producer Mike Levy. It’s not surprising Parlophone were keen to push their man’s appearance – he is one handsome fucker and no mistake. Wiry, dark-eyed, sharp-suited and with a toned-down take on the Harry Styles bouffant, Levy is the type of smouldering chap who you’d normally see advertising Joop! Homme on the back of GQ. There’s nothing terribly wrong with this approach. After all, he’s not the first musician to be pushed on his looks and it’s not his fault he’s so damn SEXY, but it is a far cry from the faceless approach employed by the majority of techno artists. But major labels don’t usually sign artists and encourage them to work under the radar.
Away from outward appearances there is also that unwieldy trading moniker – Gesaffelstein, a bastardisation of two towering intellectual concepts: Gesamtkunstwerk, the German ideal of the total or universal artwork; and none other than Albert Einstein himself, helpfully referenced on the press release as “the man who explained the universe”. On the one hand, you have to applaud Levy for the scale of his ambition in naming his project; on the other, the pretention Klaxon is going berserk. “It is an ambitious name,” says Levy. “But I want my music to be art… And Einstein always kept questioning and refining his ideas. That’s what I strive towards.”