[19 February 2009]
It’s the beats on Mikkel Meldgaard’s fourth album, Peaks and Troughs, that keeps it so alive throughout. When he wasn’t trying out pop shoegaze/ tech house transmutations of the Basic Channel formula, Meldgaard’s dubby alter-ego Mikkel Metal often made repetitive minimalist tracts that sounded felt fantastic texturally, but were far too often more wallpaper than armchair. His new rhythms generally hit like a more spry Pole (if Stefan Betke had not abandoned the direction he was heading in with 3). The sweet humanist croons of go-to guy Paul St. Hilaire, dub techno’s Robert Owens, help too. The former Tikiman doesn’t say much, but his tender voice traces Mikkel Metal’s modernist architecture back to its roots in the Caribbean, and in humankind. Most noticeable though is the surrender to bass, which rules the peaks and troughs of Peaks and Troughs with a stately elegance and a fine furnish. Meldgaard’s Kompakt album sounded more like a Kompakt album than the identity staked in the EPs leading up to it (not that there’s anything wrong with that) and, accordingly, Peaks and Troughs sounds like an Echocord album. Yet on this one, Meldgaard’s personality remains distinctive. Less metallic than rubbery, Mikkel Metal’s endless array of echoes are accessible even at their most dense. At their loudest, they’re a pacemaker-upsetting rumblepack of macro dub inflections. Played at lower levels, they’re glazed and obtuse tunes for maximum chillage.