The Swedish producer Andreas Tilliander has long been a shapeshifter in electronic music. Under numerous names, he’s been instrumental in the development of “clicks & cuts” with Mille Plateaux and ambient IDM under the Mokira name. After being nominated twice, he won a Swedish Grammy for his album World Industries in 2005. His reach extended into mastering and running a label, both under the name Repeatle. His brand of richly layered, thick electronics carries over in this mastering work, showing a keen ear for sonics of all types. The Mokira guise was last seen in 2009 on Type Records with the billowing, subtle Album. Now in 2011, however, he’s bolstered Mokira ambience with a more pronounced dub techno sound structure. On this three-part 10″ series for Kontra-Musik, his shift in rhythm is ideally suited to being remixed by Silent Servant, Echospace, and Redshape.
The first installment is called “Time Track,” where Mokira is at his most gentle while belying the distress to come. Synths roll out like waves and dissolve into ambient dub textures that would sound right at home next to tracks by Pole or Dub Tractor. As the layers build, buried rhythms start to emerge. This very slight rhythmic element gives Silent Servant his direction as he pushes them to the hilt, winding the ambient melodies around the beat and rendering any semblance to the original moot. “Axis Audio” might best be described as controlled cacophony, a skittering, tumbling stew of echo chambers and crinkling sheets of noise which lumbers forcefully to a shuddering stop. Of the three original tracks in this series it’s the most striking, bridging dub, techno, dubstep, and noise with a stately grace. Echospace turns the noise down and reforms the percussion into a fast-paced stomp with the echo chambers turning their focus to a looping maze of electronic grit. This is what most remixes aspire to be, an artist showing respect for the original by highlighting the ways in which it can be skewed to a new audience.
Where “Axis Audio” was gritty like a factory grinding to a halt, “Manipulation Musik” spreads it’s grit out over mournful strings and submerged pads. The sounds of the sea can be heard in this track, lonely and vast, but with digital squalls of harsh electronics cutting into the melancholy. It’s a very narrative track, showing an ambition hinted at in “Time Track” and “Axis Audio” but only fully realized here. Redshape purportedly used only sounds from the original for his remix of “Manipulation Musik”; this is striking considering how reduced the original rhythms are. His version starts with clipped percussion and injects bursts of grainy noise to build his melody. By the track’s middle the noise almost overwhelms the drums, as if the original’s ghost is coming back to haunt Redshape. The most interesting remixes always come when the artist and remixer sound completely different, and this series by Mokira is a perfect example. Where Mokira’s experimental bent puts sound design above all else, his editors excel at purposing those textures for the dance floor. Mokira for the club? It’s just the latest shape he’s taken.]]>
The latest offering on the increasingly adventurous Kontra-Musik proves that first impressions are often misleading. Following last year’s stunning debut album, Marcel Dettmann’s latest move is to reconstitute parts, samples and “inspiration” from Swedish dub/drone merchant Mokira — who has graced left of center labels like Type, Raster Noton and Mille Plateaux — into an EP for Kontra. Given the source material, Dettmann’s tendency (and techno music’s generally) towards making experimental abstract techno, and the title, Factory Report — which sounds exactly like the kind of name Throbbing Gristle would give to one of their feedback-coated, bile-soaked albums — you’d expect the release to be powered by industrial noise and anchored by splintered rhythms veering aimlessly into the ether. Surprisingly, the opposite is true. Indeed, it makes for some of the most ethereal music of Dettmann’s career.
The first version is based on a breakbeat meets dub techno shuffle — the rhythm coming across like an understated Cosmin TRG or Klock production with even more skip in its step than usual — with Dettmann forging uncharacteristically breezy chords and a niggling, bubbling bass with understated insistence to this backing track. It’s hardly like the Berghain resident has started to make pop music, but it does reveal a softer, dreamy side hiding behind the utilitarian, functional façade that has become his default setting. The second “Factory Report” favors a straighter, even more DJ-friendly approach, with a dubby yet curiously deft groove underpinning washes of expansive electronic textures and playful hooks. While it pulses along effectively in the same manner as Norman Nodge’s recent remix of Corrugated Tunnel, it is far, far removed from both the sturm ‘n’ drang of Dettmann’s back catalog and the skewed off-beat approach of Mokira himself. If you want to experience Dettmann in full on industrial attack mode, go and see him in action in his natural habitat at Berghain, or failing that acquire copies of “Apron” and his debut album and play them at full blast. Factory Report, on the other hand, provides fans with an insight into Dettmann’s psyche that in the main, he does well to conceal. For that reason alone, it is an experiment rather than experimental, providing a rare glimpse into the unseen.]]>