Michael Mayer

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Michael Mayer, one of the individuals behind Cologne, Germany's esteemed techno label Kompakt, moved to Berlin-based !K7 (another German electronic music empire) for the release of his 2016 full-length, &. The album's dozen tracks are all collaborations with fellow techno producers as well as a few dance-friendly vocalists from the indie world. Mayer had never formally collaborated with most of these artists before (Superpitcher, whom Mayer teamed up with as SuperMayer in 2007, is nowhere to be seen on the track list), and they're all close friends of his -- this isn't a money-grabbing list of names plucked straight from a trendy blog. As Mayer explains in the liner notes and press materials, a large number of the tracks turned out far different than expected. He originally intended his collaboration with Miss Kittin to be a joyful, carefree throwback to '80s Miami freestyle, but it was written directly after terrorist attacks occurred in Brussels, so it ended up tense, sinister, and aggravated. The album does contain its share of retro-glancing party tracks, and they're loaded at the front. "We Like to Party" (with Roman Flügel) adds disco handclaps and a scratched-up Slick Rick sample to a typically tight, kinetic tech-house beat. This is followed by a track with three of the other Kompakt bigwigs, Jörg Burger and Wolfgang and Reinhard Voigt, and it turns out to be a funky, playful disco-house jam with squishy synths and echo-drenched flutes. Later on, "La Compostela" takes the prepared pianos of Hauschka (Düsseldorf-based composer Volker Bertelmann) and manages to fashion them creatively into an early-'90s breakbeat house monster with '80s orchestra stabs. "Comfort Me" (with Norwegian nu-disco producer Prins Thomas and Dutch baroque guitarist/vocalist Irene Kalisvaart) is more of a sad, shimmering Italo-disco tune, and the concluding "Cicadelia" (with Andrew Thomas) is lush ambient techno with spacious pianos and flutes. As with other Mayer studio full-lengths (including the SuperMayer release), & has an anything-goes spirit, jumping from style to style and resisting expectations. It flows well as an album, though, starting out celebratory before getting darker and more sinister and finally ending up sublime and relaxed.

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