Heroes should be cherished. Surely when they continue to deliver, even more when they surprise. If they don’t, we might still keep them in our hearts but they become nostalgia. A feeling that offers its moments of comfort but tends to wear out. When Mayer, one of our favorite German techno gods, announced his third solo album, our curiosity – and mine in particular – rose to a pretty high level. What would he be able to offer us?
First things first, though. A quick introduction to Michael Mayer, born on December 11 1971 in Köln, Germany. Seasoned dj, producer and remixer who probably is best known as co-founder of the legendary Kompakt music label. A label that considerably helped in putting quality techno on the map. Through releases by the likes of Superpitcher, The Orb, The Field and many others.
Countless releases, EP’s, remixes, productions and mix albums along the way Mayer is a huge household name within the electronic music scene. Albeit one with a firm quality label attached to it. While he performs occasionally at bigger festivals, it is exemplary for the man that he prefers to perform at smaller venues, environments in which he feels more at home.
For those who are only discovering the man now – in what cave exactly have you been hiding? – the spot on ‘Immer‘ mix album offers a solid entry point. Released in 2002 and widely regarded as one of the better electronic albums made, it is an exciting and organic journey one easily can get hooked on. I plead guilty btw. Totally.
‘&‘, released last month, is the third solo outing of Michael Mayer, with the title clearly referring to the collaborations this album consists of. Collaborations with friends and fellow musicians, some of whom Mayer already wanted to work with for a long time, including the likes of Roman Flügel, Gui Boratto, Ed MacFarlane (Friendly Fires), Joe Goddard (Hot Chip) and Barnt. And more.
All of this results in a diverse selection of 12 tracks, pointing out straight away the potential Achilles heel of the album: a lack of coherence. Mayer however manages to do a good job on that level: the album – it feels more like a pop than a dance one – has a nice flow to it. Sure, a lot of the involved artists are instantly recognisable but one never gets the impression to listen to some kind of disconnected singles collection.
To cut straight to the point: this is not the master piece one would have hoped for but it is a very solid album. One you will only get more fond of the more you listen to it. The majority of the tracks are good, filler is few and a couple of gems are for grabs.
Opening with a track like ‘We Like To Party‘ is acceptable. Together with ‘Disco Dancers’ – Etienne de Crécy’s ‘Superdiscount’ is not thát far away – it serves as a proper opening of the album. ‘State Of The Nation‘ has that typical Gui Boratto feel to it. ‘Comfort Me‘ is interesting but doesn’t work for me, tracks like the dreamy ‘Blackbird Has Spoken‘ and closer ‘Cicadelia‘ have a very nice feel to them.
Where it does get really interesting is with productions such as the dark ‘Gemination‘ (w/ Kölsch), ‘For You‘ feat. Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard that is hinting at Kings of Convenience and surely with the film noir electro tune ‘Voyage Interieur‘ spoken together by the wonderful Miss Kittin.
One of my favorites is by far ‘La Compostela‘, made up with ‘prepared piano‘ artist Hauschka and with a wonderful pastoral introduction evolving into a road song. And then there is the mesmerising, intriguing and full-on irresistible ‘Und Da Stehen Fremde Menschen‘. A track that grabs you by the ear – that baritone! – and doesn’t let go, turning it into nothing less than a classic. I can’t wait to experience that one on the dance floor. I might even ask the DJ to put it on. Even if they throw me out for it.
Artist: Michael Mayer & guests
Released: October 2016 (!K7 Records)
Must listen: ‘Gemination’ – ‘Voyage Interieur’ – ‘La Compostela’ – ‘Und Da Stehen Fremde Menschen’
Photo credit: Kompakt.FM