Mondkopf: Galaxy of Nowhere
Apparently, Toulousain Mondkopf (Paul Régimbeau) is a relative newcomer to dance production and, sez his biography, started out trying to programme hip-hop beats inspired by Timbaland and Jay Dee. The image being projected of the 23-year-old, I think, is of an ingénue, apart and untainted, and he certainly manages to place a distinct distance between himself and much of the French Touch 2.0 crowd.
With Ed Banger et al, the vibe is that of a rock gig, with all the scuzzy energy and bad, crackly PA sound that entails – you can just about smell the sweat and beer. Mondkopf is definitely chasing a different collective mode, communion rather than conviviality, the religiosity of rave (Justice cover that to an extent, but there it’s mock-awe, really, the crucifix as trash icon). So the frequencies are wider, clear of mid-range fastidiousness; there are rich bass pads that, in a live setting, no doubt resonate through your bowels, just slightly crunchy boom-bap beats, and music box melodies given the Aphex Twin/Boards of Canada through-frosted glass-window treatment.
The opening pair of tracks, ‘Bain Du Matin’ and ‘La Dame En Bleu’ set out the album’s hymnal tone and closer ‘Ave Maria’ nails it explicitly. Sometimes he’s pushing that connection too hard, with what sound like sampled choral voices on ‘Lambs Are Dancing’ – we’ve been there many times before (Orbital, The Beloved) – and there are several moments where, at least as a home-listening experience, ‘Galaxy of Nowhere’ seems to teeter on the brink of empty monumentalism (in the right setting, and at the right volume, this might translate into genuine power). But plenty here works a treat, like the way the near-Euro-trance jauntiness of ‘Scream of Stars’ is offset by eerie peals of feedback, or the contemplative spaces of ‘Music for My Room’ (literally chambre music). With Eno, Glass, Aphex Twin, Modeselektor and Boards of Canada as masters, Mondkopf achieves an elegant synthesis of his influences.