The slight disappointment caused a few months ago by “Ret Marut Handshak”, an advance of “Mimikry” in EP format, tempered a bit the expectations of anbb’s debut LP; the duo is made up of Carsten Nicolai ( Alva Noto) and Blixa Bargeld ( Einstürzende Neubauten). The problem with “Ret Marut Handshake” lay not so much in it’s formal qualities, which were undeniable, as in the failure of the two to really come together. “Ret Marut Handshake”, as a work of two people, sounded like the sum of it’s parts, but not like their blending. We found it lacking a greater commitment to a hybrid, a fusion. It’s spaces were comfortable and easily habitable for fans of either of the two artists, but the comfort seemed to respond to a strategy that was more conservative than expected. Nicolai and Bargeld were aiming for the sure thing. Or, that’s what it seemed like.
Fortunately, “Mimikry” reveals that what was shown in the previous EP was essentially a biased, excessively arbitrary view of the whole contained in anbb. And this is clear after the ten minutes of “Fall”, a piece that is panoramic, enormous, and which opens the album. Everything that was missing from “Ret Marut Handshake” is present in “Fall”: structural daring, narrative richness, experimental drive, risk-taking.
Surprisingly dense as well as flexible, the cuts that round out what we already knew from “Ret Marut Handshake” – “Once Again”, “Mimikry”, “Berghain”, “Wust”, “Katze”– to which we should add the long versions of “Bernsteinzimmer” and “I Wish I Was a Mole in the Ground”, which get much better as the album goes on, are the ones that more than justify the encounter between Nicolai and Bargeld. In them we can see anbb’s effort to articulate their own discourse, different from that of the two members separately. It’s an especially noticeable effort in the case of Carsten Nicolai, musically the most committed of the two. His way of processing Bargeld’s voice, although it is close in a way to his work with Ryuichi Sakamoto, bears no relation to his previous production, nor does the harsh, very IDM drumming of “Mimikry” the song, or the range of timbre set out in the second section of “I Wish I Was a Mole in the Ground Extended”. Bargeld, on the other hand, is clearly somewhat conditioned by the obvious limitations of his instrument, a voice whose resources seem to have practically been exhausted already in his previous adventures aside from Einstürzende Neubauten. But beyond the reach of their individual contributions, “Mimikry” triumphs, I insist, on the value of it’s own identity.
anbb - Once Again anbb - Berghain