Koss/Henriksson/Mullaert: The Möllan Sessions
Mule Electronic

Born from five days of studio jamming, The Möllan Sessions brings together the estimable talents of DJ-producer Kuniyuki Takahashi (aka Koss) and Minilogue members Sebastian Mullaert and Marcus Henriksson. When Koss was on a late 2010 tour of Europe, the Minilogue duo invited him to stay with them in their home city of Malmø, Sweden, and The Möllan Sessions resulted from their brief time together. The approach was spontaneous and free-spirited in the extreme, with the trio plugging in, jamming, and keeping discussion to a minimum (Henriksson even recounts that a roll of the dice dictated a given track's tempo). The double-CD release clocks in at about two-and-a-half hours, with one of its seven tracks (“Hello People of Earth!”) tipping the scales at slightly more than an hour (be aware that the review copy provided included only one disc of the release's two, so the review can only offer a partial impression). Reminiscent in places and in general spirit of Miles's Bitches Brew (in which Miles and producer Teo Macero re-shaped hours of in-studio sessions into the album's final form), The Möllan Sessions ' vibe is loose and explorative.

Though seventeen minutes in length, the first of the two tracks is but a teaser for the one following. That opening improv nevertheless sets the scene, with a bluesy vamp initially establishing itself before splintering apart and then resurrecting itself as a light-footed, 4/4 house groove. The three participants are clearly operating in a highly telepathic mode, as the piece hardly meanders or feels directionless; instead, it gallops forward with an immense degree of propulsion and purpose before slowing easing itself out of earshot. Given its epic length, it hardly surprises that “Hello People of Earth!” proceeds in a more languorous fashion, as if preserving its energy for the long journey ahead. It begins by combining Rhodes electric piano sprinkles and a glimmering ambient-house backdrop in a style not dramatically unlike the evocative ambient settings Paul Schütze released during the mid-‘90s. The trio leaves behind that sense of becalmed drift after about ten minutes by replacing it with a midtempo house pulse that gives the material a newfound urgency, one that grows progressively more intense as the minutes tick by. The percussive side of things in particular gives the material drive, especially the drumming. An occasional synthesizer melody, voice sample, trumpet solo, and exotic sitar-like flourish rises to the surface of the percolating mass, which rarely falters: if ever a moment arises where it seems the mix might be about to relax, another pulse emerges to re-energize it. That being said, rhythms do drop away at about the fifty-minute mark, after which the piece spends its last ten minutes in a near-frozen state of micro-sound drift. As one might expect, there are moments when the material seems on the verge of lapsing into background noodling, but the three work hard to keep things interesting throughout and largely avoid that problem. Armed with gear such as a Roland TR-808, Roland SH-101, Moog Voyager, Nord lead keyboard, drums, congas, and laptops, the trio certainly prove themselves to be considerably more than mere knob-twiddlers.

November 2011