Mike Majkowski – Coast (Fragments Editions)

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Mike Majkowski is a Berlin based Australian double bassist, composer and experimental musician. He pops up in all manner of weird places, backing Ethiopian accordionist and keyboardist Hailu Mergia or in ensembles like Roil with Chris Abrahams, The Glider with Nick Garbett or Lotto with Lukasz Rychlicki and Pawel Szpura. Alongside these activities he also releases increasingly hypnotic solo albums. Coast is his 12th.

With two long pieces this is durational music, twenty minutes each melding electronics and synth with double bass. The music is really quite minimal, repetitive, feeling somehow peaceful, yet still possessing a feeling of momentum perhaps due to the cadence for each piece remaining remarkably consistent. It’s music that doesn’t seem interested in development, rather it’s more about developing and holding a mood. And it’s incredibly evocative. The first piece Spiral is vaguely reminiscent of Australian improvising trio the Necks when they find and hold a groove – think Drive By. The second piece, with the prominent use of a percussive (ish) loop feels distinctly more electronic bringing to mind minimal techno, yet with a significantly more relaxed, jazzier and less bombastic feel. Again despite the repetition it doesn’t wear out its welcome, thanks to the evocative nature of the sounds. This is a world you just want to sink into, and you never want it to change.

When change does come it’s relatively subtle and it occurs without altering the tempo, like the introduction of a new sound or perhaps the altering of the pitch of an existing one. The listener exists somewhere between no longer hearing the music as they dive within themselves, and being highly attuned to even the slightest alteration. I found I fell in and out of the music repeatedly, struggling to maintain focus no matter how hard I tried. This means it’s working. When it comes to intention though it seems pretty simple. Majkowski is remarkably content to find a groove and ride it put for 20 odd minutes, layering in subtle changes but always maintaining the integrity of the groove. In this sense whilst sounding nothing like it, the intention feels entirely consistent with the intention of ambient music, using tone and atmosphere in lieu of any structural development. It also rewards both active and passive listening. A fascinating and beautiful work.

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Bob is the features editor of Cyclic Defrost. He is also evil. You should not trust the opinions of evil people.

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