Michael Mayer & !K7
There’s something timeless about the form of melodic, propulsive house and techno that Mayer’s Kompakt label has woven into the fabric of dance music. And despite Mayer stepping out to the !K7 label for this collection of collaborations with some of his favourite artists, there’s evidence here to remind you why, beyond the label, “Kompakt” is so distinctive it has become something of a beloved genre. The cyborg-funk of Disco Dancers (with fellow German veterans Burger&Voigt) is warm and playful, Joe Goddard’s tones fit nicely with Mayer’s melancholic production on For You and lead single (Und Da Stehen Fremde Menschen, with Barnt) plays cleverly with a vocal sample, producing a fidgety melodrama that sparkles with energy. There is one absolute clanger – the Euro-techno-ballad nightmare Mind Games with Friendly Fires’ Ed MacFarlane – but the album’s downsides are not weak tracks per se. I like a good middle-distance-stare-whilst-listening-to-Gui-Boratto (who also features), but it isn’t clear that this brand of epic emo-tech can survive infinite variations on its core themes.
There’s a tension in the position Mayer finds himself in now: his creative direction and patronage of particular moods has created a universe of immediately identifiable, Kompakt-inspired sounds. But as well as creating stability, these textbook signifiers produce inertia – and the feeling that maybe there isn’t that much going on here that we haven’t heard dozens of times before.