The Microwave Prince was German techno/trance producer Steffen Müller-Gartner who seems to have disappeared after being fairly active between 1993 and 1998. “Eternal Light” first appeared on his only album, A Captive In The Land Of The Iron Bubbles (Le Petite Prince). It’s one of those albums that I’ve had an eye out for for around ten years now, but I have never come across a copy. Instead, my introduction to the Microwave Prince came via a 1996 Millennium Records compilation called Techno Ballads, a double CD with an icky pink cover. It’s a collection of lengthy instrumentals that straddle the bridge between trance-techno anthems and the chill out room. It’s a genre which has more than its fair share of formulaic guff, but there are a few choice tracks on this particular compilation, especially the two longest tracks – Surge’s “Sensory Bliss” and “The Eternal Light”.
The track takes an age to build. It has a pulsing beat, and a muted synth melody that wouldn’t sound out of place on Aphex Twin’s first Selected Ambient Works album. But there is a spooky atmosphere to the piece that sets the scene for the sampled dialogue. A disembodied Irish voice starts to recount a tale of a near-death out of body experience, none too coherently I might add. His reference to “going towards the eternal light” is fairly self-explanatory, but I’m not exactly sure what all the references to “taking the pictures” is all about. Whatever kind of paranormal nonsense he’s spouting, it makes for one spookily trippy ten minutes. I still play the track regularly, and it never sounds less than magical, especially in the dead of night. What became of Müller-Gartner, I know not. And one day I’d like to get hold of his daftly titled album to see whether “The Eternal Light” was a cosmic fluke, or whether there was a special talent at work who somehow never got the props he deserved.