When you think of a contemporary piano trio, techno music, Japanese anime or dystopian sci-fi, aren’t the first things that come to mind. Yet, the Swiss-German outfit known as Me&Mobi used these exact coordinates, along with a whole array of very unique personal obsessions (mostly with the under-belly of pop-culture) to forge their rich, idiosyncratic sound from. Their forthcoming sophomore full-length, titled Agglo (short for an urban agglomeration), is a meticulously curated instrumental soundtrack, one that manages to be extremely captivating, all the while violently disrupting musical conventions and overriding genre presets. This is a record that takes a traditional trio set up (keys, upright bass and drums) and quite literally modifies and supplements their signals (on output) with a rich, expansive electronic sonic palette.
The material for Agglo was written, recorded and a produced, over a period of six months in a rehearsal space converted into a studio. The band decided to do away with the distinct parts of the production process: improvising, writing, recording and post. They worked on the music in layers – constantly revising, re-editing, remixing and over-dubbing pre-recorded material. Hence, the studio literally acted as the fourth member of the band, and contributed a very distinct musical voice to every composition. This very unorthodox approach to recording live music (especially in Jazz circles), not only opened up new arrangement possibilities for the group, but also allowed them to apply a freedom normally associated with live improvisation, to the treatment of the actual sonic substance of their songs. The result is a true fusion of acoustic and electronic sound, one, that at times, completely blurs the distinction between the two.
The band describe their music as urban, i.e. the sound representative of a modern megapolis: sprawling, dynamic and, at times, bleak and oppressive. This moniker also denotes the direct allusions made to genres such as Hip Hop and the various offshoots of Electronica, which infuse this material in very inventive ways. Free Jazz is, of course, also an urban genre. And, in fact, it was the group’s improvisational proficiency which laid the very foundation for this multifaceted, capacious sound. Many of the compositions, found here, feature jagged sonic artefacts and, on occasion, sound like broken technology (a prepared piano heavily treated with fx, a soviet synth); and tend to steep in a steadily building pressure that can’t find a resolution or a release. Despite its experimental leanings and a mild brand of cinematic melancholia, at its core, Agglo is a visceral, groove-driven record that speaks directly to the body. However, the most unique thing about this collection of songs is their ability to collapse musical history on itself, by dissolving musical traditions of the past in sonic iterations of potential after-futures. Get ready for a dose of Post-Jazz, dystopian sci-fi eclectica.