Mohn: Mohn + Eberplatz 2000 Remixe (Kompakt)
Mohn is the latest collaboration between Kompakt mainstays Jörg Burger (The Modernist) and Wolfgang Voigt (Mike Ink, Gas, Studio 1, and countless other aliases). I sort of view it as the logical extension and evolution of Burger/Ink, their late 90s collaboration that crossed over into the mainstream in America via a licensing deal with Matador. There was something about that Burger/Ink release that felt so easy and breezy that it was hard to not fall in love with it at least a little bit. Mohn is not so far off the mark in that sense; there is something innately pleasant about this music that almost renders it harmless. If it weren’t an insult to the legacy of its creators, I could imagine this being played in a swanky restaurant or a design studio just as much as on a seasoned fan’s headphones. This should perhaps not be such damning praise as much as testament to their versatility and longevity. At first blush Mohn’s album might seem like an extension of the pop Ambient Kompakt enterprise, but I find it to be more complex and subtle than that. While Pop Ambient releases often seem to fashion themselves as leftfield wallpaper listening (complete with floral art direction), Mohn’s music is not so light in mood. Only on “Das Feld” and opener “Einrauschen” does the beatless treatment qualify it for airy ambeint status. “Schwarzer Schwan,” on the other hand, is ponderous and on-edge with its thudding, reverberated drums and disembodied voices. “Ambientôt” combines the aesthetics of the two creators in the best possible way, with a nice chill repetitive beat and droning and repetitive chords and tones, like the Modernist on quaaludes; “Seqtor 88” and “Mohn” follow in similar fashion. There are a few tracks where an anthem is trying to come through, but the slowed down tempo and mood weigh them down. Such is the case with "Saturn" and “Ebertplatz 2000,” two tracks that seem to beg for remix treatment. The duo obliged with the latter, giving it a deluxe treatment with remixes by each of its authors and a third by Kompakt newcomers Terranova. With the tempo nicely perked up to dancefloor compatibility, suddenly Mohn starts to feel unsurprisingly similar to the Burger/Voigt collaborations of yore, especially their one-off “Bring Trance Back” single from a few years ago, which also boasted separate treatments by Burger and Voigt. The Terranova remix adds piano and more of a house touch to the arrangement, but I personally prefer the head-on tranced-out synth treatment by Herr Voigt the most. Very little about either the album or the remix EP will be surprising to those who’ve followed the career path of Wolfgang Voigt or Jörg Burger over the years, but the results are still quite satisfying on their own. Whether you prefer the more nuanced home listening of the album or the tightly crafted remixes that gesture toward the dancefloor, the quality control bar is as high as ever for everyone involved.