Mikkel “Metal” Meldgaard returns to pal Kenneth Christiansen’s deep dub factory Echocord with an EP of glazed, distinct productions. Things begin serenely in the lush chords and soft kick of ‘Awake’, before gaining energy for the strut of ‘Bregnan’. Then you have your introspective (‘Jech’) and dreamy (‘Include’) moments before the last lap: the gurgling ‘Konkin’ and finally the highly mechanical, German-sounding ‘Restore’.
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Ah yes, this is most assuredly dub techno. Mikkel Metal, real name Mikkel Meldgaard, is a Danish producer who found his way to the genre through the woozing and whirling guitars of Pavement and My Bloody Valentine, and though his album ‘Just Enough Light’ lacks the intensity of the former, it’s clear that the attention to detail of sound designed is something he’s carried with him from those formative years.
There’s something in the tonality and texture of those early influences that makes them pleasant to listen to, even divorced from their melodies, and the same is true here. All the tracks have the echoey sheen that defines much of dub techno’s aesthetics. It feels new, and very familiar, like a factory-fresh car. There’s little on ‘Just Enough Light’ that is looking to shake up its genre, and Meldgaard himself has stated he’s more interested in refinement that anything else.
That’s not to say there isn’t room here for a bit of fun. Opener ‘Awake’ has a number of little jazzy flourishes that show off Meldgaard's ability to find space even among all that dense dub. ‘Bragnan’ and ‘Include’ and both upbeat and funky, and retain a trace of optimism within a genre that tends to be a bit more subdued. The highlight of the album is ‘Konkin’ which manages to create a sense of drama out of what are best described as sonic bubbles.
Dub techno will never be for me, my taste in music is a bit too grotty for that, but even I can sense that this guy knows what he's doing.
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- Just Enough Light by Mikkel Metal
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