Michael Mayer is one of the leading German tastemakers in dance music and his DJ sets have influenced a generation (or two) of musicians and fans. As an artist, Mayer remains tirelessly motivated to DJing, in the studio or behind his desk at KOMPAKT, the label he co-owns. His recording career spans four albums, 23 EP’s, nearly 170 remixes and the legendary DJ mixes for fabric and Immer.
‘&’ is his third full-length, a passionate and personal album that speaks as broadly as his DJ sets – embracing his genre-busting love for music, rhythm and atmosphere – and the dancefloor in front of him. ‘&’ – the title says it all; Michael Mayer collaborated for every track on the album. “All of those involved are good friends of mine and not random choices selected from some Top 100 list. These people mean a lot to me – and by that the music we produced together is heart driven and emotionally powered. I felt we had a mutual privilege to share time together in the studio creating what you hear”.
‘&’ follows a long phase of solitary studio work, but Michael is returning to a pattern of collaboration that’s been significant throughout his career. From his early band Forever Sweet (with Reinhard Voigt and Tobias Thomas), Zimt (with Matias Aguayo) or most recently Supermayer (with Superpitcher).This new wave of partnerships can be traced to the series of back-to-back DJ sets he played throughout 2015. “In the past, I would always take the safe route and DJ with those I would also want go to bed with”, he says with a grin. “Then I found myself opening up. I got this desire to share the decks with DJs who may not share the same records in their crates but who shared a sense of adventure and challenge in playing together”.The most inspiring moment that comes to mind were his sets with Seth Troxler. “We challenged ourselves without borders, a purpose that lead to what ‘&’ is all about”.
Opening track ‘We Like To Party’ finds Michael (finally) producing with old friend Roman Flügel – a tribute to an era of music that shaped them both. A high noon bloomer inspired from the late 80’s / early 90’s. It comes with a wink…and scratch.‘Disco Dancers’ is produced with his KOMPAKT brothers in arms Jörg Burger, Wolfgang and ReinhardVoigt. Old friends holding hands for a colourful dance so deep you feel the heat of the night in their heart, and it delivers the most insane breakdown you’re likely to hear this year. Brazil’s leading techno force, Gui Boratto brings a dramatic change of atmosphere on ‘State of the Nation’ – the lights go on as Michael and Gui bridge a blusterous paradigm to the dancefloor.
‘Mind Games’ is the first song with vocals, by Friendly Fires Ed Macfarlane, that are a declaration of sadness and search for acceptance in a relationship’s demise.The collaboration with Kölsch ‘Gemination’ brings a hypothermic drop to the senses. ‘Voyage Interieur’ with Miss Kittin reflects current world politics.The original idea was to produce a track that breathed the classic ‘80’s sound of Miami freestyle, but the attack on Brussels happened shortly before the session started and in a spontaneous reaction, Miss Kittin’s words found a perfect fit with the bittersweet melancholy of the track. An intense dance on the thin line called life.
‘ForYou’ is a modern ballad for the dance floor and bedroom. A true love story sung by one of the best, Joe Goddard of Hot Chip / The 2 Bears. Over the course of Michael’s career remixing the likes of Rufus Wainwright or Pet Shop Boys, he has been able to bridge song writing and dance music in an extraordinary way and they both unleash the best of their talents and shine as if someone turned on every light in the world for a love that is meant to stay. ‘Blackbird Has Spoken’, produced together with talented French producer Agoria, is about taking all the time on the world, filling the room with a pop ambient flavour of modern club music. A track intended to go on forever…‘La Compostela’ with acclaimed musician Hauschka is an unlikely collaboration that exhibits Michael’s adventurousness. “We both didn’t expect this to happen. I expected an epic trance track or something totally abstract – not this baroque rave whopper”.
“Listen to the silence inside of you, when all is said and done” are the first words you hear on ‘Comfort Me’, the threesome of Michael Mayer, Prins Thomas and vocalist Irene Kalisvaart. It resonates an era of pop music gone by but not forgotten. A sweet temptation as much as a moment of inner truth, the song captures those hours on the dancefloor when one forgets that others are around. An album highlight is ‘Und Da Stehen Fremde Menschen’, built around a vocal sample from a long lost East German band Stern Meissen. “I bought the record because I thought the cover was interesting. Then I heard this one line that fitted perfectly to this idea of mine”. Barnt was the only candidate to make this idea come to life. “The trick was to bridge something that sounds sincere and deep with a delicate balance of craziness”. The outcome breathes a groovy spookiness, likened to the Giallo works of Dario Argento, where the borders between reality and fiction are not clear.
‘&’ comes to a tranquil close with ‘Cicadelia’, a long distance team up between long time Pop Ambient / Kompakt producer Andrew Thomas from New Zealand. ”This is the kind of music that I would like to hear under the most brutal sun with my tongue sticking to the palate. It’s the musical equivalent of an ice cold Cuba Libre.”
‘&’ is the rare manifest of an established artist who is willing to risk it all and challenge himself, and the world around him. 12 tracks, 12 single narratives coming from a group of very individual minds orchestrated by Michael Mayer – the DJ, artist,A&R but most importantly, obsessed music lover. Michael describes the process of curating and creating ‘&’ as a constant battle between his three alter egos but “the obsessed music lover has had the final say.”
As diverse as they are, all the tracks that result from this long and winding road create a cohesive story and present the elasticity of Mayer’s musical galaxy. Michael gladly leaves it to the rest of the scene to discuss the different grey shapes of club culture. For him there is only one club culture – a playful and open-minded one that’s easy to comprehend after you hear ‚&’.
~ Thomas Venker, Cologne, 2016
A1 Michael Mayer & Roman Flügel – We Like To Party
A2 Michael Mayer & Burger / Voigt & Voigt – Disco Dancers
A3 Michael Mayer & Gui Boratto – State Of The Nation
B1 Michael Mayer & Ed Macfarlane – Mind Games
B2 Michael Mayer & Kölsch – Germination
B3 Michael Mayer & Miss Kittin – Voyage Interieur
C1 Michael Mayer & Joe Goddard – For You
C2 Michael Mayer & Agoria – Blackbird Has Spoken
C3 Michael Mayer & Hauschka – La Compostela
D1 Michael Mayer & Prins Thomas / Irene Kalisvaart – Comfort Me
D2 Michael Mayer & Barnt – Und Da Stehen Fremde Menschen
D3 Michael Mayer & Andrew Thomas – Cicadelia
& is available for preorder now.