When a musician stretches just two tracks over the course of fifty minutes, the most likely barrier to success is the ability to hold the listener’s interest for such a long period of time. As is often the case with such a concept, the tracks that make up Markus Mehr’s ‘In’ (save a few snatches of dialogue) are entirely instrumental too.
‘Komo’ is the first offering and for the initial minute or so it’s so quiet, it would be forgivable to check the volume control to know that it’s playing. However, after five minutes of scene setting, the cinematic string sample and bass rhythms merge together like a huge menacing creature of the sea getting nearer and nearer and becoming louder and louder until it starts to blur and distort. In terms of scope and doomed romance, it makes a fine bedfellow for Paddy McAloon’s ‘I Trawl The MEGAHERTZ’.
Yet whereas ‘Komo’ possesses a clear elegant beauty, ‘Ostinato’ seems more like an experiment in noise and drone. Soon the layers are stripped back to reveal a core lonely guitar melody and even though the sound is submerged like crashing waves by distant trumpets and warped effects, this track also reveals a serenity amongst the turbulence .
Far from being an exercise in endurance, ‘In’ creates an atmosphere which evokes both the danger and the beauty of the sea. ‘In’ is the first in a triptych of albums from Mehr, soon to be followed by ‘On’ and ‘Off’. One can only hope that these records maximise their impact with similar levels of expert minimalism.
Talvihorros, Paddy McAloon