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Mohn

Mohn

(Kompakt; US: 8 May 2012; UK: 23 Apr 2012)

As is typical of Voigt & Burger, the former one of Kompakt’s founders and the latter one of electronic music’s most aliased veterans, Mohn isn’t their first collaborative LP but it is an excuse to try something a little different than before and think of a new thing to call themselves. This go around finds the pair in a plainly contemplative state, a nine-track collection of which only one song avoids the six-minute mark and begins very dreadfully, though in the reserved fashion that’s come to typify Kompakt releases.


“Einrauschen” and “Schwarzer Schwan” (“Black Swan”) feel barely there at times, communicating a sort of delirious ambivalence about sadness that would be wrong to declare straight up ambient but feels so emotionally detached from any other sort of musical statement it’s hard to decide on anything else. If the record had continued in the grooveless, sleeping on one’s feet fashion of those first two tracks it could have been a very exhausting piece of music. Luckily, Mohn has been around long enough to recognize the usefulness of a dynamic set.


“Saturn”, the album’s longest song at eight minutes, doubles as it’s most polar opposite in terms of feel. It’s one of the few songs with a constantly present, propelling groove, and loaded with the sort of effects that bring to mind Jack Horkheimer on acid. And “Seqtor 88” drops a jazz drum fill underneath its contemplative sequencers, reaching back into late 90s IDM like Amon Tobin and Squarepusher without ever threatening to actually exhibit the sort of liveliness those records were meant to communicate.


Even at its most upbeat, this is an album that’s meant for rain, sad authors or lonely stargazing. In German, Mohn translates to poppy, an inspiration that would seem to pull more from the flower family’s narcotic effects than its renowned beauty, though there is a sort of idling calm the LP can induce at times.


But mohn is also a Hebrew term, referring to the miraculous food that rained down from the sky to feed Jewish travelers as they followed Moses through the desert. It was a food that tasted however you desired it to taste, not unlike how a child might try to pretend Dr. Pepper tastes like anything other than Dr. Pepper each time they take a sip. This, too, seems fitting of Mohn the album: being an album mostly of ideas on repeat, it feels meant to be taken as your mood means to take it. One could take from it the sort of gothic, Germanic brooding that I have or perhaps find a more uplifting album waiting for them, something that feels a bit like the Field’s Alex Wilner getting dumped by his girlfriend and losing his job but not caring very much.


The album seems to get brighter and brighter as it goes along—“Ebertplatz 2020” features the album’s only prominent bass figures other than “Einraushcen’s nearly sub-audible beginnings—but it’s not a light switch being flicked on so much as a night light being plugged into the wall. Mohn isn’t a release that feels entirely essential, but it definitely provides a variety of moods and has a fairly dynamic three-act swing that makes it well worth perusing if Kompakt’s sounds have pleased you in the past.

Rating:

David Amidon has been writing for PopMatters since 2009, focusing on hip-hop, R&B and pop. He also manages Run That Shit on RateYourMusic.com, a collection of lists and rankings of over 1,000 reviewed hip-hop albums created mostly to be helpful and/or instigating. You can reach him on Twitter at @Nodima.


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