Michael Mayer: Speaker (Kompakt)
By Nick Kilroy
Mayer produces the definitive Kompakt EP of deep soul shaking house, a 12" of almighty proportions.
His understated strengths come from pacing, delivery and the depth of his production, how he draws the disparate elements together, their relative incompatibility and freak combination blowing the scale of his sound. On 'Speaker' the B-line comes through as if it's echoing from Drexciya's undersea sound system or the booty bass session in the universe next door. Unwieldy and distant, he reins it in with a regimented snare, immediate and tight like it's coming down over your left shoulder and you need to start dancing or it'll get you.
"I am your speaker, speaking to you" but we hardly need the vocal sermon to understand this is a direct summons to the dance floor. I defy you not to heed the call. That stalking lo-freq bass is strong enough to pass for a hook, so when he teases out an insidious high-end acid line, we're in the palm of his hand and things could hardly get better. But this is just the set-up, and a staggeringly simple one at that. With the scale defined, the remote elements synced as if destiny herself had a hand in the production and a momentum that could push us out of the atmosphere, he can afford play and duly go to town with the tension.
'Sneaker' on the flip, it's less patient, more insistent twin, takes an analogue squiggle and drills it into obedience. The unshakeable confidence of these tracks recall Daft Punk's mid-nineties masterpiece 'Homework', a vital cure for the dense rhythmic pyrotechnics that obscured so much else at the time. That too played with the chasmic silence before the beat drops, indulging in those moments when we hear the speakers gasping for breath and look around at the dance floor frozen in anticipation, before it's all brought back under a disco stomp.
Mayer's ability to express his personality through such powerful dance music distinguishes this material. He's leading an already strong field and this EP should help establish his reputation with those who've yet to discover the genius of Kompakt. For the rest of us it is simply an affirmation of his unparalleled talent.
"Sadly Nick is no longer with us but I'd wish he'd written more."