Sunday, May 15, 2011


This week I did a lengthy review (that I am sure will be cut) for Resident Advisor about the new Mokira album "Time Axis Manipulation" on Kontra Muisk, which for me was a fantastic and dynamic journey into ambient dub techno. The artist in question is one Andreas Tilliander from Malmö in Sweden. He has been releasing music for over a decade under several aliases and was one of the earliest figures to play a role in developing the glitch sound with his album “Cliphop” for Raster Noton back in 2000.

His recent album however, finds him in ambient-dub techno terrain. While dub techno is rightly maligned for being formulaic, particularly where it approaches the dance floor, there is clearly plenty of new space to be found there for inventive artists. In particular, Mokira’s take on it was eschewing a more orgramming aesthetic for a more patient, modulated and indeed “shepherding” approach to the music. That is to say, Tilliander lets it wander, but in his case the music knows where the grass is greener.

These two videos are nerdy, but they make the point: banks of machines and Tilliander apparently doing nothing, just pushing buttons or twiddling knobs, but the gradual development of the sound is impressive.

Here, the sound seems in its infancy compared to what is on the album which is richly layered and highly organic, resembling more Vladislav Delays “Multila” album and perhaps also Rhythm and Sounds lengthy tack “Imprint”.

On a side note, Brendon Moeller aka the Echologist also just released an album of ambient dub techno called "Subterranean" on his own Steadfast imprint with quite differing results. Moeller comes from a more dance orientated background and his album sounds fighting and at times heavy, but cleverly resists the urge to drop in beats even if the music suggests the space for them.

Tilliander on the other hand comes from a more ambient/avant garde background, despite having dance floor and IDM roots himself, and works more the textures and evolution of the sound. In particular, his previous album “Persona” on the Type label has many of the same dynamic elements as “Time Axis Manipulation”, but without referencing dub techno. The palette here is smoother and warmer even when it strays into more industrial passages.

Two curiosities about this album are firstly its reference to Ingmar Bergman’s film “Persona”, one of the greatest films ever made, in the cover art particularly and perhaps in mood (not to mention that both are also obviously Swedish).

Secondly, "Persona" the album also pays homage to Indie rock, in particular Spacemen 3. Tilliander makes particular note of an encounter with Jason Pierce in the sleeve notes, whereas one track is called “Ode to the Ode to Street hassle” in reference to Spacemen 3’s “Ode to Street Hassle” itself a homage to the Lou Reed track of the same name (from the “Street Hassle” album). Similarly, another track is called “Octaves and Tremelos” a direct reference to Sonic Boom’s release of that name.

This is not the first reference to indie rock in Tilliander’s work. His 2007 album is entitled “Hateless” in obvious reference to My Bloody Valentine’s seminal album “Loveless”. The album features track names that replace “love” with “hate” such as “True hate will find you in the end” a reference to Daniel Johnston and again to Spacemen 3/Spectrum who covered the track. The 2004 album “World Industries” also sported a track called “Mary Chain” after the Jesus and Mary Chain.

1 comment:

  1. Kontra Music is excellent, I'm especially fond of Jason Fine's weird bleepy techno. I found Mokira's Persona quite boring, but the new one sounds far more interesting.

    How do you do those nice little photocollages?