To prepare for “That Who Remembers”, Swedish producers Dorisburg (aka Alexander Berg) and Sebastian Mullaert set up their equipment in Malmö’s empty Inkonst venue, spending several days immersed in its atmosphere, using the lights, smoke machine and soundsystem to create an authentic club environment where they could freely improvise. Berg thought of it like a soundcheck for a festival, the opportunity an artist has to hear their music in situ, when the PA itself becomes an instrument. “It’s often the most beautiful moment of the whole gig,” says Mullaert. “You feel this free energy, there’s no audience and you can be playful and genuine. What happens happens, and I think that’s the best way to allow creativity to be expressed.”
The result is a suite of free-flowing sounds that draws on both artists’ backgrounds in reduced techno and ambient music, sailing thoughtfully through near-future landscapes and punctuating them with shimmering, kosmische textures, decaying sonic memories and fragile rhythms. Not dance music exactly, it’s music that instead considers the spirit of an empty dancefloor, wondering which elements might remain when feet have left the building entirely. It’s hardly surprising that the record is coming via Donato Dozzy and Neel’s adventurous Spazio Disponibile imprint. “We recorded at full club volume with massive bass, but our references had gradually shifted to the point where just adding a soft kick drum would feel like peak time techno. So even though the final recordings are quite soft and ambient, the energy we felt during the recording was often quite intense.”
Mullaert is a serial collaborator who’s recorded alongside artists as varied as Matthew Jonson, VRIL, Neel and Johanna Knutsson; he cut his teeth developing an innovative reaction to minimal techno expanded his outlook dramatically over the last two decades – even teaming up with Tonhalle Zürich, one of the world’s most highly-regarded philharmonic orchestras, on 2020’s “Natthall”. Berg meanwhile records tense deep house with Nils Krogh as Genius of Time and as a solo artist has put out a slew of 12″s on labels like Northern Electronics, Bossmusik and Phonica and a full-length on Hivern Discs in 2016. They apply these seasoned backgrounds to a collaborative sound that’s more about communication than it is about tech fetishism or any particular musical genre. If Mullaert’s previous album attempted to explore his own relationship with improvisation, meditation and dance, “That Who Remembers” observes how these expressions change when there’s a dialog.
The title track establishes the mood cautiously with orchestral gusts that whisper at the boundary between blood and binary. Mullaert’s background in post-classical experimentation immediately comes into play here, while Berg helps fashion the sound into a cosmic, fourth world blur. But ‘Bond’ is where the duo’s interplay becomes more pronounced, as they exchange skittering beats, basses and glassy synths so playfully it almost feels infectious; not happy music exactly, it sounds like an oddly familiar shot of hope imported from another time. On ‘Skyward’ their rhythms are sanded to almost a hiss, lost amongst reverberating echoes and controlled feedback wails, whilst on ‘Moss Odyssey’ the two slow down to a crawl, bending inebriated synth warbles around undulating sub bass and crisped white noise.
Trading mutant flute flourishes and unstable, dusted percussion on the propulsive ‘Hibernation’, Berg and Mullaert lift the veil, exhibiting an ornate ballet that’s both intensely physical and emotionally charged. It makes ‘Lucid Soil’ even more poignant, concluding the album with decaying piano memories that ping-pong into silence like two consciousnesses drifting into slumber. For the Berg and Muellart it’s art that’s about unraveling complicated energies rather than expressing ideas using only the dynamics of dance music. “When we’re in the studio, we should put our bodies in the same place as the music we’re creating,” Muellart says. “It’s not about thinking, but exploring, feeling, and tasting the music as we play it. For me, that’s the essence of music. Feeling it and letting it out when the moment strikes.”
Available to pre-order via Bandcamp