MMM - On The Edge

  • A minimalist tour de force from Errorsmith and Fiedel.
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  • Errorsmith and Fiedel, the two venerated German producers comprising MMM, are from another era. In an interview with XLR8R around the release of his much-lauded 2017 LP, Superlative Fatigue, Errorsmith revealed how changing times necessitated a different approach to publicity. "The first Errorsmith releases and the collaborations with Fiedel as MMM... were self-released with distribution via Hard Wax. We never made much promo for them. Partly because we weren't that extroverted, but also because it worked for us without it. In that period the vinyl sales were good... But with the last releases as MMM, we were disappointed by the low numbers of gigs we got from them." Both Fiedel and Errorsmith cut their teeth as part of an internationally-connected German scene that conducted a series of revolutionary experiments with dance music starting in the '90s. Back then, pressing mind-blowing records like "Donna" (1997) and "Nous Sommes MMM" (2010) and seeding them in cognoscenti stores was enough. As MMM releases their first album, On The Edge, 25 years into their career, they feel more "out there" than ever—perhaps reluctantly. Even if MMM is known for minimalist, off-kilter bangers, the palette on On The Edge is so sparse that you might think your headphones aren't working correctly or that they muted a few tracks on accident. To be completely honest, when I first heard the eight-track, 40-minute record, I found it so stripped-down that is was obtuse, almost off-putting. Then it grew on me. I found the breadth of expression within this context of extreme limitation fascinating. The title track consists of only a kick, a clap, a drone and a triplet hi-hat. Somehow, with four elements, MMM creates the floating sensation of footwork. In the past, Errorsmith has restricted himself to just one Reaktor patch per record. It's a safe assumption that the kit was similarly stripped-down for On The Edge, yet the duo gestures towards a disproportionate number of moods and genres. The opener, "Where To Go," is cheerful minimal house put through the MMM grinder. "No Thought" is lurching digi-dub abstraction, while "The Interview"'s dramatic string motifs and spoken word snippets—"When I don't get those chills / I am very disappointed / I just wanna cry"—feel like what would happen if Container tried his hand at stately Dial Records emo-house. Fiedel fell in love with drum machines via the sounds of West Berlin radio as a youth in East Germany, eventually moving to Berlin, getting a job at Hard Wax and landing a residency at the original Ostgut club in 2000. Errorsmith has taken a "quality over quantity" approach since the '90s, collaborating with the likes of Mark Fell to Jay Mitta over the years. Perhaps it's due to this wealth of both studio and club experience—together and apart—that MMM's "debut" album is their most subdued, quietly confident work to date. Younger artists would fill up the page on their first album-length statement. MMM, meanwhile, gets out the eraser. I started this review stating that the duo is from another time, but I'm speaking about things like record stores, magazines, the new generation of club kids and DJs. Their music is no throwback. It's as thrilling and forward-thinking as ever.
  • Tracklist
      01. Where To Go 02. Everything Falls Into Place 03. On The Edge 04. No Thought 05. The Interview 06. Farsta Dream 07. When Does Ghosting End 08. So Nigh