Music

Mikkel Metal: Brone and Wait

Barry Lenser

On his superb third outing, Mikkel Metal surveys related strands of the electronic genre and, throughout all, applies insistently tight, magnetic, and delicious beats.


Mikkel Metal

Brone and Wait

Label: Echochord
US Release Date: 2007-04-17
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon
iTunes

The first name “Mikkel” (Meldgaard) foresees a natural beat-maker. Its pronunciation, with the sharp pair of "k"s occupying the middle, takes on a percussive quality. Even a single utterance of “Mikkel” aurally contains a firm crescendo and then a comedown, like any well-formed rhythm. The full moniker Mikkel Metal indicates the culmination of this potential. Indeed, Danish producer Mikkel Meldgaard, formerly of assorted noise-rock groups, came to embrace his avowed inspiration –- crisp electronic music -– in the mid 90s. Since this crossover, “Metal” has replaced his christian last name, highlighting a “fondness for hard, metallic drum’n’bass cuts".

This description points to material with a locomotive, near-techno inflection. But, on both his previous full-lengths, 2005's Close Selections and 2006's Victimizer, Mikkel preferred the ambient and amorphous to more athletic exercises. In general, these pieces equally valued oozy texture and rhythm.

To its vast benefit, Mikkel’s excellent new release, Brone and Wait, in part bridges this chilled sonic temperament with his earlier inclination towards spry, icy-hot rhythms. The genuinely impressive feat?: the beats, those protruding, punchy, and infectious beats that Mikkel insistently holds onto throughout and which, dexterously, lend kick to the brisker compositions and calm to more reflective moments.

Brone and Wait roughly divides into separate thirds of these differing aesthetic tacks –- from urgent gallops to moderate grooves to lulled drifts -– but the breaks are not so clean, a la Bowie’s wildly schizophrenic Low. Rather, a decompression process is at work, whereby the tight, nearly ironic swerviness of the opening salvo “Dromos” shares book-ending duties with the concluding “Conceal”, a wandering, ambient meditation. As expected, “Dromos” offers greater thrills. Though thoroughly chrome-colored (like the whole of Brone and Wait), its main ingredients -– dark synths and a fizzy drum machine -– contain mystery and drama that induce bodily movement. Its cousin piece, “Stand Guard”, is even more of an 80s throwback, with glinting electro-organs and airy darts. The underlying connection, though, remains the beats, here so frosty and magnetic.

“Nexer” initiates a quiet retreat from the spunky step of “Dromos” and “Stand Guard”, striving for more piecemeal progression. Just one listen might suggest a lurch; further tries reveal a persistent, forward-moving sense of mission which, now inescapably, comes in the form of meaty rhythms. The details are there as well, the douses of sonic data that, through Mikkel’s expert handling, never trip up the focused course of the main beat. These mid-paced tracks are acutely susceptible to this hazard. Their rhythms don’t imperially dominate, like the opening numbers, but neither have they slid into the background (vis a vis ambient), creating a heightened potential for clashes between core and peripheral sounds. On “Exraster”, “Roddan”, and “Sala” (names that smack of characters from the Sci-Fi channel), Mikkel eludes this pitfall by pushing the echoes, pongs, and flickers to the edges and maintaining an open channel for the speciality of his craft.

This is the stunning quality of Brone and Wait: Mikkel never sacrifices his vision of sharp rhythms for generic considerations, be it techno, minimal house, or the lush thickets of ambient that close the album. This final stretch isn’t as immediately gratifying, but it is no less skilled. Recalling the best of stateside electronic practitioners, Telefon Tel Aviv, “Bano” is just a hazy drip of a song, all texture and atmosphere. “Krudina” follows and weirdly succeeds via a packed mix of compressed fuzz beats and watery touches. The ultimate effect is hypnotic, despite its dense patches.

At its terminus, Brone and Wait seems to have gone in reverse. For whatever reason, a buildup comes across more naturally than a fifty plus minute unwind. This is Mikkel’s method of operation, however, charting a night from the tail end of a club sojourn into the languid plod of an after-bar’s closing moments. Beyond this curiosity, Brone and Wait is quite straightforward. Though they lack any trace of vocals and may only flirt with proper song climaxes, these ten entries essentially approximate pop schema. That they overflow with indelible rhythms is the real cause for joy. Say it aloud once more: “Mikkel,” the name of a superlative beat craftsman.

8
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

12 Essential Performances from New Orleans' Piano "Professors"

New Orleans music is renowned for its piano players. Here's a dozen jams from great Crescent City keyboardists, past and present, and a little something extra.

Music

Jess Williamson Reimagines the Occult As Source Power on 'Sorceress'

Folk singer-songwriter, Jess Williamson wants listeners to know magic is not found in tarot cards or mass-produced smudge sticks. Rather, transformative power is deeply personal, thereby locating Sorceress as an indelible conveyor of strength and wisdom.

By the Book

Flight and Return: Kendra Atleework's Memoir, 'Miracle Country'

Although inconsistent as a memoir, Miracle Country is a breathtaking environmental history. Atleework is a shrewd observer and her writing is a gratifying contribution to the desert-literature genre.

Music

Mark Olson and Ingunn Ringvold Celebrate New Album With Performance Video (premiere)

Mark Olson (The Jayhawks) and Ingunn Ringvold share a 20-minute performance video that highlights their new album, Magdalen Accepts the Invitation. "This was an opportunity to perform the new songs and pretend in a way that we were still going on tour because we had been so looking forward to that."

Music

David Grubbs and Taku Unami Collaborate on the Downright Riveting 'Comet Meta'

Comet Meta is a brilliant record full of compositions and moments worthy of their own accord, but what's really enticing is that it's not only by David Grubbs but of him. It's perhaps the most emotive, dream-like, and accomplished piece of Grubbsian experimental post-rock.

Music

On Their 2003 Self-Titled Album, Buzzcocks Donned a Harder Sound and Wore it With Style and Taste

Buzzcocks, the band's fourth album since their return to touring in 1989, changed their sound but retained what made them great in the first place

Reading Pandemics

Chaucer's Plague Tales

In 18 months, the "Great Pestilence" of 1348-49 killed half of England's population, and by 1351 half the population of the world. Chaucer's plague tales reveal the conservative edges of an astonishingly innovative medieval poet.

Music

Country's Jaime Wyatt Gets in Touch With Herself on 'Neon Cross'

Neon Cross is country artist Jaime Wyatt's way of getting in touch with all the emotions she's been going through. But more specifically, it's about accepting both the past and the present and moving on with pride.

Music

Counterbalance 17: Public Enemy - 'It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back'

Hip-hop makes its debut on the Big List with Public Enemy’s meaty, beaty manifesto, and all the jealous punks can’t stop the dunk. Counterbalance’s Klinger and Mendelsohn give it a listen.

Music

Sondre Lerche and the Art of Radical Sincerity

"It feels strange to say it", says Norwegian pop artist Sondre Lerche about his ninth studio album, "but this is the perfect time for Patience. I wanted this to be something meaningful in the middle of all that's going on."

Books

How the Template for Modern Combat Journalism Developed

The superbly researched Journalism and the Russo-Japanese War tells readers how Japan pioneered modern techniques of propaganda and censorship in the Russo-Japanese War.

Film

From Horrifying Comedy to Darkly Funny Horror: Bob Clark Films

What if I told you that the director of one of the most heartwarming and beloved Christmas movies of all time is the same director as probably the most terrifying and disturbing yuletide horror films of all time?

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.