Marco Supernak & Roger 23 :: Double review (Mensch)

Marco Supernak maintains a theme, discreet sounds and the movements of the every day. Reuter goes that bit further into the cerebral. His is an introspection, a deep view inward. Memories of styles formerly explored are present but they just about reach the surface. A rich and rewarding start from this Cologne imprint.

Marco Supernak & Roger 23 :: Double review (Mensch)

I remember when ambient was the prefix of electronic music. The term was attached to anything that had any amount of depth to it. It was probably the success of Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works volumes that helped popularize that term, but in more recent times there has been a resurgent interest all things ambient. The rise of the cassette, and the tape label, has allowed for new physical platforms on which analogue atmospherics can take root and prosper. Mensch started out this way but has since made the leap to wax.

Imprint owner, Marco Supernak, got the ball rolling with Layers of Lies. Gentle field recordings are married with lilting melodies. Echoes fade and merge, keys surfacing before scurrying into the undergrowth. Supernak utilizes samples throughout, stuttering human voices and clipped conversations to create an unsettling undercurrent. Notes and strings sit apart, lonesome in their isolation but brimming with hopefulness. It’s the interplay of silence and sound, the moments of interaction between instrument and environmental audio that give the cassette such an involving quality. Quiet broached by a timid and timorous touch, a hand lightly flicking keys as houses creak and streets chatter.

For their move to vinyl the services of Roger 23 have been employed. You may know Roger Reuter for his electro, house and techno excursions for labels like Baud and Bio-Rhythm, but Mesch001 is Reuter at, perhaps, his most experimental. Haunting harmonies are the focus. Melodies loop, turning in on themselves as intoxicating and invigorating shapes form. Samples are sparingly peppered across the LP. Light strokes and powerful chords take center stage. The constructs of beat, the patterns of percussion, of past pieces have been all but removed. “Thao-N-Y” plays with clicks and flattened snares but it is the globular synth lurking behind that slender rhythm that deserves attention. Keys are stretched, pulled out into expansive horizons that blur both origin and limits. “On the Way I Crossed” keep its own time, bars steadily arriving and departing. The track is stunning, simple and sublime. Other tracks, such as “Grey Clouds,” border the dramatic. But at the LPs heart is the tinkerer, a love of playing with music and trying to sculpt something seminal.

Mensch’s website accurately describes the latest from Roger 23 as “confronting” yet “soothing.” I’d say that to extend this description further to both releases would be more than fair. Marco Supernak maintains a theme, discreet sounds and the movements of the every day. Reuter goes that bit further into the cerebral. His is an introspection, a deep view inward. Memories of styles formerly explored are present but they just about reach the surface. A rich and rewarding start from this Cologne imprint.

Both releases are available on Mensch.

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