Electronica Obscuritities: explorers_we by farmersmanual.
It's been so long since I did one of these that I don't even remember what number I'm up to. Part of the problem has been that so many of the albums I want to write about are associated with Vienna's Mego label. It seems rather unfair to all the other labels and scenes that produced great electronic music during the 90s and early noughties.
Still, if there's one imprint that demands an urgent critical rehabilitation, it's the one that Peter “Pita” Rehberg recently relaunched as Editions Mego. You see, Mego has an undeserved reputation for unrelentingly harsh glitch formalism. It's pretty hard to square this with the actual music produced by the artists most closely associated with the label: the memoradelic drift of Fennesz, the mutli-layered avant pop of Noriko Tujiko, the confounding playfulness of General Magic, the sensory overload of Pita.
Sure, Mego records often come with a great deal of harsh and austere surface noise but this is almost always used with a whimsical good humour and towards perception-bendingly psychedelic ends. No one act embodies this element of the Mego sound better than farmersmanual. I first became aware of this Viennese collective when I saw explorers_we referred to as “indescribably odd” in a review for some other record. When I finally tracked explorers... down, I wasn't disappointed.
Actually released on Russell Haswell's Touch-related Or label, explorers_we was conceived as farmersmanual's master-work and is certainly the most ambitious realization of the core Mego aesthetic. Indexed as 60 one-minute tracks, the CD moves gradually from delicate processed room tone to jabbering vocal cut ups via sparse glitch beats and all manner of granular tomfoolery.
The band went on to put out the longest album ever released (the three-day DVD ROM RLA) but explorers_we still stands as their crowning achievement. Do yourself a favour and – as farmersmanual themselves used to say – “pump chaos into your mind”.