Kptmichigan: Player, Player

Germany's Michael Beckett aka Kptmichigan has produced with Player, Player the kind of uncompromising minimal electronic release one might expect to find on Ritornell, Fällt, or Mego. While it sounds like a quintessential exercise in laptop electronica, guitar—radically altered of course—is a major source. Beckett references numerous stylistic signposts across the multifaceted recording's thirteen tracks—Merzbow, Chain Reaction, Fennesz, Techno, Pole—but manages to personalize his music too by infusing its cool, abstract minimalism with a sensual warmth and melodic pop sensibility. After a brief intro of sine tone static (“Solong S-20”), “Fruchtig” appears, its minimalism at first reminiscent of snd and subsequently classic Chain Reaction in its propulsive groove. With its melancholy chords, “Fon” evidences that aforementioned warmth, at least until its languid beat turns distorted and mangled. “Jimi” is a quietly abrasive prelude to the electronic storm of “Derber Papa” which finds Beckett inhabiting Merzbow territory. After a thirty-second barrage, the track's rhythm begins to relentlessly churn and thrum. One final blast resounds before Beckett moves into the stumbling beat of the Autechre-like “Do It!” The crackles and static on “Surf's Up” evoke the trademark sound of classic Pole, while “Or Is” evokes the DSP treatments of Stephan Mathieu. The recording ends with the charming “Hey Brother” which, after a brief electronic intro, unexpectedly shifts to the sound of acoustic guitar strumming and vocals. In fact, this lovely folk song turns out to be less anomalous than it at first seems, since Becket gradually reintroduces at song's end the processing treatments that appear everywhere else, and thereby creates a unifying reinstatement of the overall sound. Player, Player registers as a derivative homage of sorts to a vast range of electronica styles and artists, but strategically placing “Hey Brother” at the end is Beckett's remarkable way of reclaiming the recording by exposing himself so nakedly. It's a brilliant move that makes for a memorable coda to this compelling set.

August 2003