Munich artist Brian Müller (a.k.a Skee Mask) features once again on his city’s notorious genre shaping label, Ilian Tape. This time he returns with his second full-length album, after being given the much-due credit for last year’s EP on Ilain Tape’s Skee series. His track ‘Routine’ appeared on just about every ‘top-tracks-of-2017’ list. The reception on his first LP, Shred was also immense, and returning with a second is always made out to be a daunting feat. But not for Müller, who keeps on delivering with his music. The album has already received much acclaim and is no doubt set to be a top album this year. How does he do it?
Ultimately, I think it comes down to his hybridity of ambient textures and rhythmic mastery, his detail in composition and that all-too-delicate skill of toeing the line of nostalgia and innovation. Müller cracks the latter with his earnest ode to ‘90s drum’n’bass rhythmic melody, ever-focused on breakbeats, and his emotive ambient techno builds in the style of Autechre and Aphex Twin.
‘Soundboy Ext.’ is possibly some of the most inspiring drum programming of all Müller’s rhythmic melody. ‘50 Euro to Break Boost’ is a sublime conjuring of atmospheric chords and elevating breaks, yet jaggered enough to retain Skee Mask’s signature stamp. There’s still plenty of subtle umph on the LP, with underlying pounding kicks that reveal its place in the encampment of Ilian Tape. ‘Dial 274’ is a captivating jungle experiment, that’s got hard hitting snares overlaying some really contrasting ambience, which you won’t hear on anything far outside of Autechre. This use of dramatic snapping kicks feature again on ‘Muk FM’, whilst ‘Via Subs Mids’ has a more atmospheric leaning with hyper foggy saturation.
Every track on this album deserves a mention of significance. Hugely versatile, Müller shows off his talent for churning up the new from a medley of experimentation. This album covers all moods with delicacy and subtleness. The introspective episodes are captured through emotive melody entwined within futuristic soundscapes, and yet the assortment of sound designs leaves a nice continuity of interplay between the hard deconstructed and peaceful euphoria.