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Detroit House Guests (Mute)

Kuperus and Adam Lee Miller have been at this for about 20 years now,
and it shows both in the near perfection of their productions but
also in their willingness to experiment and collaborate. Detroit
House Guests
is the result of a grant-funded series of live-in
collaborations between the duo and several special guests from around
the world. Each artist lived with the couple in their combined
home/studio space, and the album presents two finished collaborations
with each respective artist. Some of these yield more surprising
results than others, often by virtue of how contrasting in sound
projects are from each other. Michael Gira’s collaborations on
“Breathe On” and “As You Dream” push the sound further away
from the tightly wound electro of Adult. classics like “Pressure
Suit” or “Hand to Phone” and instead encourage a circularity
around both Gira and Kuperus’s repeated vocals: “No sense /
nonsense / no sense.” Its repetition feels in line with recent
Swans output, which has grown even more sprawling and cyclical in the
last several years. Collaborations with Lun*na Mensch undulate and
swirl with the same disorienting wooziness of Throbbing Gristle’s
“Hamburger Lady,” sort of the spookier complement to their two
tracks with Shannon Funchess of Light Asylum.

On the latter, her
androgynous but mighty vocal works well to complement Nicola’s
thinner timbre, and the results are the most dancefloor-immediate of
the bunch — incidentally, the only two cuts from the album the duo
performed (sans guests) during their recent Portland performance.
It’s these tracks that probably will feel the most familiar to Adult. fans, and while they are some of my favorites on the album, the real
spirit and heart of Detroit House Guests is in the duo’s willingness
to stray from their usual repertoire and to flow with their collaborators’
instincts or contributions. For this reason, the two cuts with Robert
Aiki Aubrey Lowe are some of the more inspired sounding tangents,
emphasizing synthesis and a sense of open space.

The second of these,
“This Situation,” is the most expansive sprawl of the album, full
of atonal drones and a layered collage of Kuperus’s spoken vocals.
Despite the revolving cast of collaborators, the album feels
surprisingly cohesive and well-conceived, dodging the number one
problem of many such approaches; rather than feeling like each track
swerves into the lane of its collaborator, they feel harmonious as
parts of a whole. The only tracks that I find myself skipping are
those with Nitzer Ebb’s Douglas McCarthy. As much a fan as I am of
Nitzer Ebb, particularly their early albums which no doubt influenced
Adult., “They’re Just Words” in particular just doesn’t work for
me. However, that’s a minor complaint in what I find otherwise to be
a compelling and cool album. It’s great to hear the duo broadening
their sound and exploring inspiration from different corners of the
electronic music universe. Recommended.

Buy it: Mute Store | Boomkat