Sensate Focus Sensate FocusSensate Focus 10
For a long time, Editions Mego and dance music have been like water and oil: the opaque and the ecstatic just could not get together. The Austrian label dedicated most of its catalogue to the most exclusive and alienating brands of experimental music, releasing records by the great artists operating in the fields of noise, computer improvisation and rhythmic cubism, from KTL to Jim O’Rourke and Mark Fell. However Pete Rehberg, who's not very flexible when it comes to opening the windows of his label to let the air run through, has been intelligent enough to set up some subsidiaries to explore more accessible sounds. Last year it was Spectrum Spools - a label directed by Emeralds' John Elliott, which has since been releasing a string of vinyls focussing on cosmic music, computer jams, new age reissues and crystal ambient-pop - and this year it looks like it's Sensate Focus' turn, with something like Mego's house platform.
However, if you see the words ‘house’ and 'Mego' in one sentence, beware: the four cuts on this record (if you order it from the label directly, they give you a pencil for free) are house because of the harmonies, not because of the rhythms. As Rehberg commented in an interview with The Wire, what he finds fascinating about old Chicago house is the synth lines, not the beats. Accordingly the contents of “Sensate Focus 10” (seemingly produced by Mark Fell, though that hasn't been confirmed), sounds like a stylised version of snd's music: almost liquid flashes of melodies, friendly and mesmeric, with a polygon-like network of extending high notes, a spider-web around your ears, supported by a tangle of obtuse and seemingly transparent rhythms. It sounds like primitive deep-house, with pianos flying around like mosquitos in the night, but without any virtuosity, as if it were John Cage remixing Larry Heard over a bed of clicks & cuts the old Mille Plateaux clients would kill for. In addition to the (superb) contents, the exciting thing about Sensate Focus is the huge possibilities: a potential catalogue of early evening club music that could be played both at Chicago revival parties (like Terre Thaemlitz or Monolake recording for 100% Silk) and as sonic sculptures in some modern art museum. Mouthwatering.