Markus Guentner has a number of abridged mp3 samples of his tracks up on his site
. My intro to Guentner was via his ambient stuff for Kompakt, "Regensburg" and the In Moll
album, which are about as smacked out (in both the nice, blissful sense and the glazed-over consciousness-exiting catatonia sense) as ambient gets - towering synth glaciers very slowly grating past eachother with the relaxed friction (and pace) of continental drift.
So it's nice to hear a different side of Guentner on his tracks for Matthias Schafhauser's Ware label. Ironically these tracks actually remind me of much of the work on Kompakt's Total
compilations: open-hearted pop-techno that might be Saint Etienne or Magnetic Fields if either groups had grown up in Germany - pop whose emotional power is not in some transcendant quality (though there's that too sometimes) but rather is incribed into the structure of the music... transcendance as a craft that can be learned, maybe. No surprises then that Markus covers Talk Talk's "Such A Shame" - I'm half-surprised that he doesn't do Scritti Politti as well.
It's hard to pinpoint and pin down
what it is that I like about this entire continuum of minimal house/microhouse/pop-techno etc. In a half-written article I've been ignoring these past few weeks I obsess over the sex/body-aesthetic within microhouse: the eagerness with which a host of different producers have attempted to recreate the sensation of physical friction, of invasiveness
, and the way in which, like 2-step, this music attempts to marry the twin-but-divergent explorations of syncopation and repetition that, one or the other, seems to characterise all sex-focused dance music. Maybe it's that last point that lends much microhouse the sense of the ultimate
But Guentner's stuff - sleek, occasionally mournful euro-glide - is as sexless as Kraftwerk. Its high-techness is in its opulent sheen and perfect reflectiveness rather than hyper-tactile fleshiness. We're talking stainless steel fridges, with maybe the occasional burst of computer malfunction, and not a human body in sight. Still, it's not totally un-sexy - if anything it reminds me of the (overused reference point alert!) amorous robots in Bjork's "All Is Full Of Love" video. It's a question of: how much does amour
rely on physical sensations?