Artist: Markus Mehr
Label: Hidden Shoal, Australia
Details: CD/DL. 9 tracks / 46 minutes. Available from Hidden Shoal
Great cover with the sky bubbling like magma. Markus Mehr was originally a rock guitarist who now makes more ambient and electronic music, but the inner guitar hero isn’t entirely absent. Lava is quite an eclectic album, and a little oddly paced. There’s some definite sturm und drang about the first track. Agenda is well titled because it sets one for the rest of the record to follow. It starts out hazily ambient, almost casually by rote, but builds into something altogether dirtier and nastier. This theme is continued with Softwar which shovels on the grime and distortion like an amped up 30th generation tape copy of a Fennesz tune. The third of a superb opening triumvirate is the beautifully elegaic synth piece Full Moon that harks back to the most blissfully spaced out work of seventies Kosmische Musik practitioners such as Klaus Schulze. It’s a gorgeous piece.
Things get a bit workmanlike and uninspired until track six when Cousteau pulls the album up by its bootstraps with some low down and dirty guitar drone. Things then head off on a weird tangent with a couple of examples of fairly abstract electronica before Ohm completes the record with some echoes of the opener.
Lava has its faults, particularly during the middle half (Cousteau excepted). If the standard of the first three tracks had been consistently maintained, I’d honestly put it down as a contender for album of the year (and to my mind 2010 has been a really strong year). As it is, it’s still a mighty fine record, and one that should help establish Markus Mehr as an artist to watch.