- Michael Mayer has described himself as a "hobby producer." But while it's true that his music might not match his stature as a DJ or co-founder of Kompakt, it also doesn't sound like the dabbling of a dilettante. It's also true that much of the Cologne artist's best studio work has been collaborative, like the tracks with Tobias Thomas and Matias Aguayo that have cropped up on Kompakt's Total compilation series.
The fact that Mayer's third "solo" album, &, consists entirely of collaborations should play to his strengths, as it should also showcase the keen curatorial ear he's displayed as a Kompakt A&R and while compiling his Immer mixes. The usual suspects are all here: Kompakt mainstays (Kölsch, Gui Boratto, Voigt & Voigt), as well as extended family members like Roman Flügel and Agoria. They're artists you'd expect, and they do pretty much what you'd expect them to. In most cases, you could probably guess who's on which track, and that's not limited to vocal appearances from the instantly recognizable Miss Kittin and Joe Goddard. The bright, groovy "State Of The Nation" would fit snugly onto any Gui Boratto album. Agoria's melodic touch guides the classic deep house of "Blackbird Has Spoken," and the grubby fingerprints of Roman Flügel's ravier days are all over "We Like To Party." Elsewhere, Hauschka's prepared piano creates the clenched tension on "La Compostela," Voigt & Voigt and Burger do finger-snapping disco on "Disco Dancers" and Andrew Thomas reclines into "Cicadelia"'s Balearic drift.
& is essentially a compilation of disparate tracks. There are a few good moments, enough decent efforts and some failures. The Prins Thomas collaboration, "Comfort Me," featuring singer Irene Kalisvaart, might have worked on Mayer's vocal-heavy Immer 3 mix, but it feels too saccharine here. But what's missing is any sense of the lead artist himself; the only thing connecting these tracks is a certain crispness in the production. Whether or not Mayer took such a backseat, & occasionally sounds like he got more than a little help from his friends.
01. We Like To Party feat. Roman Flügel
02. Disco Dancers feat. Burger / Voigt & Voigt
03. State Of The Nation feat. Gui Boratto
04. Mind Games feat. Ed Macfarlane
05. Gemination feat. Kölsch
06. Voyage Interieur feat. Miss Kittin
07. For You feat. Joe Goddard
08. Blackbird Has Spoken feat. Agoria
09. La Compostela feat. Hauschka
10. Comfort Me feat. Prins Thomas & Irene Kalisvaart
11. Und Da Stehen Fremde Menschen feat. Barnt
12. Cicadelia feat. Andrew Thomas