- Jan Schulte's music is instinctively appealing. In the chugging tempos and elastic, organic overtones of his work as Wolf Müller and Bufiman, he's helped feed an appetite for modern exotica that's both rhythmically complex and irresistibly easy to dance to. Increasingly, dance floors are responding to slower, weirder strains of club music that forgo the de rigueur synths and drum machines of house and techno. As shown on last year's excellent Tropical Drums Of Deutschland compilation, Schulte's work has its roots in an obscure '80s exotica, crafted by German producers whose music evoked tropical climes they'd never visited. "Songs about the jungle or the rainforest made by people that know the rainforest only from television and books," Schulte wrote of the compilation's tracks.
This strain of Fourth World idealism could also apply to the percussionist Niklas Wandt, whose vast and diverse collection of instruments suggests similar musical instincts: wind chimes, kpanlogo, crotales, balafon, ocean drum, handpans, singing bowls, a belt sander. (Since the early '10s, Wandt has applied his impressive grasp of rhythm to various free jazz, improv and psych rock acts.) On Instrumentalmusik Von Der Mitte Der World, he joins Schulte in bringing together geographically disparate sounds and locking them into a cohesive, universal groove.
"Lockerina" is a typically strong example. It's an exuberant mish-mash of hand drumming, pan-pipe fluttering, tinkling glass, synthesized human bass notes and a steady disco tick—a familiar combination for avid listeners of Wolf Müller, but no less likeable in its easy funk and densely layered textures. Wandt's playing sounds at home in this thicket. On this track alone he's credited with playing the ocarina, flexatone, talking drum, kpanlogo and Wersi Elektra KF90 synth.
This is far from a one-dimensional attempt to make "exotic music." On "Der Mitte Der World," the broad sweeps of pad and wobbly synth chirrups recall the early ambient techno of Stasis. Elsewhere, disco-derived beats are prominent, with the duo sometimes relying on them too much. "Welcome Zum Paradies," though, brings one of several welcome twists. Its '80s-tinged island boogie swells around jungle ambience and German-language narration before a funky drop into something Wally Badarou would be proud of.
The LP's more experimental digressions broaden things out. "Auflösung" has a seasick quality as it veers from the weight of murmuring jaw harp tones, messy drum surges and dubby FX with a hint of rough, early '80s electronics in the air. "Ahu," an album highlight, brings a sense of cohesion to the collaboration as Wandt's mixed bag of percussion sits starkly in the mix alongside lurching, half-step dub beats and bright daubs of lead lines, effectively using space as much as sound.
It would be hard for such a rich palette of tones to not be evocative. As on his ambient album with Cass, Schulte comes across as a sensitive collaborator, and here he rises to the bending, flexing pings and chimes of Wandt to create a definitive embodiment of his sound. It's a time-slipping trip between the old world and the new, between exotic fantasy and earthly reality. Instrumentalmusik Von Der Mitte Der World is a lovely vessel on which to reach enchanting imagined lands.
01. Der Mitte Der World
02. Lockerina feat. Timo Hein
03. Expedition feat. Florian Van Volxem
05. Welcome Zum Paradies feat. Florian Van Volxem, Sara Dudzinski Rodriguez, Kurt Prödel
06. Kleiner Trommelbaum
07. Traum 4 feat. Philipp Otterbach
09. Ahu feat. Nils Herzogenrath, Florian Van Volxem
10. Aus Versehen Angetörnt
11. Weltraumsandalen feat. Florian Van Volxem
12. Ein Afrikadelle Danke