Otto Von Schirach - Supermeng
Electronic music is haunting all forms of music like the Marxian Specter, casting its imperceptible shade over the landscape, tinting music in a way that will remain in place until we go back to petroleum powered wire recorders or wax cylinders in a futile quest for "our roots." Now, while entire labels (Warp, Audio Dregs, Astralwerks, DFA, Hotflush, etc. etc.) show that this can be a glorious thing and even a living dichotomous experience blending every instrument from Farfisa organs and Moog Rogues to contrabasses and cowbells, the general atmosphere is one of banality and endless subcategorization for naught; a land now covered in polluted water and fetid waste, rotting slowly. What makes an artist unique or notable is the ability to re-contextualize, create a new space, and be forward thinking but rooted in a singular present ideal or motive so as to maintain a contiguous stream on an album-by-album basis, forming a tension between "bad copy" and "Platonic ideal" in both aural result and general ethos. What also works is the ability to be completely balls out insane and throw together songs comprised of a kitchen sink of sounds both thematically pertinent to one another and utterly unconcerned with one another in such a fashion that the end result is an exquisite corpse. This approach has generally tended to work for Miami musician and possible cult leader Otto Von Schirach, resulting in albums like Global Speaker Fisting and perennial classic Oozing Bass Spasms. His Magic Triangle LP showed a taste for metal of all persuasions and a loving mockery of dubstep, a concise statement of New Weird Bass and Fortean concepts combined with a healthy dose of humor – so, an Otto Von Schirach outing par excellence. With his latest offering, Supermeng, the refinement of genre play continues, this time culminating in an anything-goes demi-narrative concerning an alien order of reptilians, "third-eye injections," and a style self-described as "mengstep."
What makes Supermeng work is its hyperactive nature; the refuge found in audacity allows absolute freedom, and this is taken to a logical extreme. The music of the Triangle Earth crew (Otto and Mr. Feathers, primarily) has always relied on contradictory textures in the form of tropes gone awry, and this has never been more apparent than in opener 'Salpica (Miami)' with its Salt 'n Pepa/electro drums, breakcore kick intro, sprechgesang vocals, and lyrical matter relating to dirty women, a verb relating to bacon fat, and another Spanish verb roughly meaning 'to touch yourself'. 'The Blob' defines mengstep, drawing samples from The Venture Bros., educational tapes and B-movies while a belching synth drones on a single LFO'd note in what comes off as a less than complimentary note to brostep producers who repeat three notes with different synths for 5 minute intervals. If given a guess as to the meaning of these two songs (which seems to be relatively masked compared to surrounding tracks), the answer offered would have to be, "Sex and danger, the two threats to Supermeng." Then again, after the threat of 'The Blob', 'Breathe the Beat' simply serves as a chance to foil any tension and serve as an amalgam of jungle, the beloved Miami 808, and one of Otto's favorite writing methods of repeating a phrase a few times without letting it appear to mean anything (think of this track as 'Dance Like A Ho 2.0'). This is prime weirdness, and a new level for the always beautifully insane and manic Von Shirach, an album more concerned with its own mythologies than the furthering of Bermuda Triangle expeditions and post-Icke reptilian theory, all wrapped up in a box equally shiny and threatening. And while the successes outweigh the failures, at times tracks feel too static for their own developmental good, until the sameness is inevitably broken by direly needed vocal interjections or lapses into fuzzed out bleeps sourced from two oscillators fornicating in Jello.
This could very well earn Otto Von Schirach a wider fanbase, what with his feature in XLR8R and endless crossposting of the (fucking amazing) video for 'Salpica'. Or at least one can hope, as this is not only the most accessible release from the man but the most fun he's ever had making his music based on the end result. This is an album of rapture ecstasy, closed eye stories for the initiated and open eared excavations for the lovers of "regular modern electronic" or other Monkeytown artists. Anyone well acquainted with his oeuvre will find plenty to keep them interested in the continual evolution of his sound, his refinement of hilarity and serious musical concern now past the alchemical destruction and well into the concentration phase. Those getting into the manic work of Triangle Earth maven Von Schirach for the first time will find plenty to challenge their notions and entice the ear in want of new sounds interwoven with a well-chosen selection of nods to the old. It's hard to tell if Supermeng is a product of its environment or a creation for a new ecosystem; a statement with clear purpose and intent or a willfully muddled paean to conspiracies and the people who love them for reasons both sane and questionably healthy.