I can’t express the excitement that comes with each new Mego release. This Austrian label is consistently surprising, and more importantly, always relevant. There is never a sense of extraneous, avant-garbage on Mego. Even for a record label focused so intently on modern electronic music, there is none of the bland repetition that Mille Plateaux perpetuates, none of the academic pretense of CRI, none of the watered-down pandering of Carpark. These are all good labels, of course, but Mego is something special. With a deluge of music that claims to be intellectually provocative, Mego has the distinction of being the proponent of some of the most visceral avant-garde music to date.
Maybe it’s how the culturally-loaded work of Christian Fennesz, Jim O’Rourke and Peter Rehberg, both separately and together (not to mention: General Magic, Noriko Tujiko, Massimo, Nachstrom, etc., who all uniquely draw on dilapidated remnants of popular media) instigate a flood of broken, assaulted nostalgia. A mixture of sweet memory and the frustration it has in the context of time moving forward, the next awful daily event, the painful things that succeeded it. Even the noisier work, the recent Kevin Drumm album, Farmers Manual, Merzbow, can’t be considered pure avant-garde noise for noises’ sake. And someone like Merzbow, whose work can often be reduced to that description, had a singularly strong sense of thematic unity in his Mego release, A Taste of Merzbow, which focused entirely on Asian food.
Hecker’s Sun Pandämonium is in the more abstract section of the Mego catalog. Its ugly, bright tones are partially due to extremely high harmonics built on top of lower frequencies. It’s pure digital noise. No references to Led Zeppelin, children’s television shows and certainly no melodies or rhythms (which even Farmers Manual, the group most similar to Hecker, would throw in their interpretation of binary signals).
Yet, considering Mego’s recent releases of Massimo’s Hello Dirty, the quintetAvant LP, and the forthcoming Farmers Manual DVD, its hard to wholeheartedly recommend Hecker’s Sun Pandämonium. It’s a solid release, probably the most lucid glare into whirring seas of distorted, uncompressed data that you’re likely to ever hear, but it just doesn’t have the same satirical, misanthropic bent that makes so many other Mego releases strong. Not that a new direction would hurt Mego, but the preoccupation with shattered electronic sounds isn’t quite substantial for an entire release anymore, the aforementioned releases have a little bit more depth. Hecker’s Sun Pandamonium is very much worth hearing, the shorter tracks that follow the 20+ minute, soul-sucking “Stocha Acid Zlook,” are easily some of the more curious specimens of electronic music, products of Hecker’s almost wholly unique palette. Yet, the album just doesn’t resonate after it ends.