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Culture Reviews
Michael Mayer
White Clouds 
By Bernie Jenneskens
Michael Mayer is a well-respected man in the world of techno and electro dance music. His Cologne-based Kompakt label releases 12”s and albums that receive general praise. The label’s so-called “minimal techno” or “micro-house” is considered a true heir to the legendary Detroit sound from the late eighties-early nineties, although Michael Mayer himself has categorized it as well as “just give me a 4/4 beat and from there anything goes”. The playful, cheery and down to earth manner in which he and his fellow DJ’s approach their music only adds to the appreciation: a welcome, badly needed alternative to big business superstar DJ’s and mega-clubs.

Kompakt also acts as a distribution-channel for numerous small independent labels and the combined efforts of this unique conglomerate allows for fresh new music virtually every week. Most of these productions are recorded with the dance-floor in mind, so when Michael Mayer, who in his own words is “a proud father of successful children” plays his sets, he obviously is making good usage of the Kompakt pool of artists. Nights with Michael Mayer behind the turntable tend to be exciting stuff, not in the least because he himself is the first one to thoroughly enjoy the music, which usually results in playing air-guitar and riding invisible motorbikes!! He is a much-liked guest in many parts of the world: The week before his performance in Moscow, he played in Switzerland, Portugal, Spain and Dortmund was already eagerly waiting for his return to Germany.

October last year Michael Mayer was invited to mix number 13 of the London based 'Fabric' international DJ series. For someone who has been active for almost two decades in dance music, his own recordings are somewhat limited, but “Fabric 13”’s appearance put his name as one of today’s most original DJ’s strongly on the map.
The album captures what DJ-ing is about: Great music for dancing people, but it is also typical for Michael Mayer that he considered the recording mainly to be an opportunity to bring 'his' labels to the attention of a broader audience.

Russia’s DJ Kubikov, with work released on Kompakt, invited Michael Mayer to play in Moscow. And no better location than the Phlegmatic Dog, next to the Kremlin and the Red Square where the last time that a German landed a surprise was back in 1987 when Matthias Rust put his lightweight Cessna in front of Lenin’s Mausoleum.

Michael Mayer played a 3 hours set, making it one of the most memorable “techverg” nights in the Dog’s history. A fakey fashion-tv loop that ran during the set on a screen above the bar appeared bleaker and bleaker with each track and soon no one was paying attention anymore to the Monte Carlo models of the year. It is always nice to see when an audience knows what it is coming for and that they are not disappointed. This certainly was the case this night. Turntable skills, pumping techno beats, humor, eclectic sound-effects ranging from ‘clicks’ and ‘bleeps’ to twisted voices and Scorpions-type of guitar loops, a full Depeche Mode (!) song, some gothic melancholy, pulsating basses and lots of good music: ‘Stop’ is not a word in Michael Mayer’s vocabulary and it kept everybody dancing for the full three hours.

Happy people and an upbeat atmosphere: What else could one wish for?

And yes: Michael Mayer was playing air-guitar while riding invisible motorbikes with Kubikov ultimately happy in the back-seat.

30.04.04
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