Those hoping for a romping new hi-NRG direction from Michael Mayer will be disappointed. Mantasy may sound like a '70s New York gay bar but it actually refers, explains Mayer, to his fascination with history's great madcap explorers: "Characters obsessed with an idea, to totally wrong conceptions of the world and faulty sea charts, to inconceivable exertions, all that lunacy." Does Mayer see himself as a fellow-traveller, sonically? A producer following his own Mantasy?Perhaps. And with some validity.
If the recent appetite for artists like Nicolas Jaar, Actress, and Andy Stott has anything to tell us about the taste of dance music's more studious set, it's that fitful and filthy are in, and streamlined and tidy are out. This development is neither sudden nor surprising-- the swapping of sleek sounds and tidy quantization for more distressed sonic textures and complicated time signatures has been a throughline of pretty much all electronic music for the past three or four years. But it's a difficult enviornment for someone with as crisp an aesthetic as Michael Mayer.
Released in 2004, Touch -- Michael Mayer's first production album -- was pieced together, closer to a compilation than a single statement. Portions of it were rushed. Mantasy, made during the course of seven months, is more unified and reflects the Kompakt leader's infatuation with a broad range of film music. After the twinkling melancholia of "Sully," the album makes like the early portion of a Mayer DJ set, with alternately clumpy and jumpy rhythms -- inhibited yet somewhat cartoonish -- fostering a sense of anticipation.
Despite being one of the figureheads of Germany's Kompakt, it has been eight years since Michael Mayer's debut, Touch. Known more for his dynamic DJ sets than his production work in the studio, Mayer has crafted an album that touches upon many of the elements that have made Kompakt into one of the most uncompromising labels in electronic music. From dreamlike ambient textures to seductive, bass-draped post-club beats to warm analog synths that flicker with pop undertones, Mantasy's broad strokes are fitting coming from the Cologne resident.