Release Date: Jul 9, 2013
Record label: Planet Mu
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock
Electronic music has long been associated with forward-thinkingness and youth, such fruitful output the product of defiant pluck and a desire to push both boundaries and buttons alike. Yet thus far this year, the sprawling genre’s most buzzed about albums came courtesy of some of its grayest practitioners, the respectively respected duos Boards of Canada and Daft Punk. Add onto that 2012’s reinvigorating Ufabulum LP from Squarepusher, and it seems that the sometimes shadowy patriarchs of such sounds are enjoying a renaissance instead of suffering through a midlife crisis.
Mike Paradinas, the man behind µ-Ziq and peerless electronic label Planet Mu, has been a central figure in progressive and inventive electronic music for over 20 years. His work both as a label boss and as an artist has been very much founded on the principles of exploring sound and all the possibilities it possesses. Just as important as the sound itself is its relationship with the body and the mind.
Mike Paradinas has never reached the dizzying heights of acclaim afforded to IDM contemporaries like Aphex Twin. But, listening to his early Rephlex-released LPs under the µ-Ziq alias, his importance in shaping the style is indisputable. From there his career path has been far from straightforward: by the late 90s he'd made a lateral move, setting up his own label and arguably proving himself a better A&R than he was a producer.
For much of the late 2000s, Mike Paradinas put his output as µ-Ziq on hold, and instead focused on making his label Planet Mu the home of cutting-edge artists like Kuedo, Venetian Snares, and Starkey. Aside from his Heterotic project with wife Lara Rix-Martin and Gravenhurst, which released its debut, Love & Devotion, early in 2013, Paradinas hadn't released an album of his own since 2007's Duntisbourne Abbots Soulmate Devastation Technique, which channeled the anguish of a breakup in its claustrophobic atmospheres, prickly beats, and barbed melodies. Chewed Corners, the eighth µ-Ziq full-length, is as playful and eclectic as its predecessor was consistently bleak.
If Daft Punk and Boards of Canada can make a comeback this year then why not Mike Paradinas? True, he never really went into hiding - he owns/runs the label Planet Mu, responsible for the steady drip of electronica from white-hot emergent producers. But bar surfacing this year with Love & Devotion, a dream-pop project with Lara Rix-Martin, aka Mrs Mike Paradinas, he’s been quiet since 2007 as µ-Ziq and the mixed reception to his seventh LP. Not anymore: it seems mixing Love & Devotion prompted some visits to the garage, and the result is Chewed Corners; a synth LP chopped with arrhythmic, E-ravaged beats that nods at the contemporaries Paradinas has been grooming.
Six years on from his last, unsettling album, Duntisbourne Abbots Soulmate Devastation Technique, electronic pioneer Mike Paradinas returns with a radical change of pace. Two decades ago, µ-ziq conjoined Aphex Twin and Autechre in making rhythmically abstruse digital music. More recently, Paradinas's own label has released compilations of Chicago footwork, a raw and minimal dance subgenre.
Planet Mu is one of the most forward-thinking record labels operating right now, championing burgeoning new sounds and scenes from across the globe. The man behind this powerhouse, Mike Paradinas (aka µ-ZIQ), is best known for his collaborations with Aphex Twin (as Mike & Rich) and for releasing music on some of the most prestigious electronic labels of the last two decades. With all this in mind, one would expect great things from Chewed Corners, an amalgamation of all those amazing disparate sounds he's been releasing over the years.