May 14, 2009

Kuchen Meets Mapstation – s/t (2003, Karaoke Kalk)

Another unique and timeless, genre-defying album from Berlin-based label Karaoke Kalk. This time, a collaboration between previous KK abstract IDM-ish artist Kuchen and post-rock group To Rococo Rot alumnus, Stefan Schneider under his Mapstation alias. Kuchen had already made a name for herself in the IDM community with her '01 disc “Kids With Sticks,” a gentle electronica album with a chill-out vibe by Muriel Barham, ex-guitarist/vocalist of The Pale Saints. Mapstation had already produced a pair of top-notch post-rock/ambient electronic albums for the Staubgold label, and would soon begin drifting into a reggae-tinged direction with collaborations with vocalist Ras Donovan. The Kuchen Meets Mapstation collaboration is a very difficult-to-define collection of melodic, pleasant, child-like explorations; ambient in the sense that there is almost no percussion or beats, IDM-ish and post-rock-styled in the repeating, tonal motifs and hum-able melodies. A nice blend of guitar and synthesizer sounds, digital effects and organic recordings, constantly shifting and changing unexpectedly. The programming and processing is expertly done, and provides very stimulating listening. An upbeat, exuberant feeling is maintained throughout the album, never veering into overly-experimental or noisy territory. Following this release, Mapstation has continued with a new album every other year or so, with an excellent, dub-tinged full-length on the great ~Scape label in '06. Muriel seems to have since taken a break from the Kuchen project. Both artists' catalogs of material are worth hearing!