Markus Mehr "Off" Reviewed at DOA

“In July of last year, I reviewed Markus Mehr’s On album here at DOA, the second part of the trilogy of albums that Off is the final section of. On is a tremendously varied and imaginative sequence of tracks, varying from ambient soundscapes to haphazardly conceived audio collages, and it’s continuous invention gives the album an accessibility that could find Mehr an audience outwith the Electronica scene. Perhaps he has deliberately gone out of his way to reassert his credentials as an electronic composer with Off, which is a very different album to its predecessor. Consisting of one track 42 minutes in length, Off places less emphasis on jump cut sampling and leaps of technology, instead it’s to all intents and purposes an actual symphony, a seamlessly performed series of drone and keyboard motifs interspersed with intricately timed percussion.

In other hands a 42 minute extended synth improvisation might prove over indulgent or even unlistenable, but Mehr’s timing and his compositional skills prevent the piece from sliding out of its focus. When the percussive breaks appear amidst the drone waves and piano motifs, they’re placed not to boost the sequenced sound to club trance levels, although Mehr could and probably does produce music that’s more designed for crowd pleasing : instead, the percussion signifies tonal changes of emphasis as Off develops its fractalised structure and while it remains based around a repetitive synth riff, Mehr draws as much as he is able from his sequential templates and added effects are used sparingly.

This structured, verging upon minimal approach to what is a lengthy piece of experimentation is exactly what makes Off work. Mehr is too experienced a musician to take significant risks with his material, but Off is unquestionably a work which makes demands upon its listeners. That it doesn’t seem overlong is a measure of Mehr’s own skills and as album length ambient electronic epics go, it is again an accessibly scored work, avoiding too much in the way of atonality and retaining a melodic core throughout. Aside from that, it’s an album you might need to put some time aside to appreciate fully. Off may qualify as ambient but it’s definitely something more than just elevator muzak.”


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