"These people mean a lot to me - and by that the music we produced together is heart driven and emotionally powered." The words of Michael Mayer when explaining to us in a recent interview the collaborations on his latest album, &.
The title is an obvious nod to the 12 different artists who hooked up with Mayer for this record, his third full length effort, this time brimming with musical partnerships.
Roman Flugel features on the opening track 'We Like To Party'; the two are old friends and their long awaited musical union comes to life here with great effect. Subtle handclaps marry with continuous hi hat bursts in a decidedly understated opener, but that's not to say you don't feel a slight twinge of anticipation when rising synths develop in the latter half of the track.
Later on this moodiness is reciprocated in 'Blackbird Has Spoken' (listen above), but before that point things are turned up a notch.
With the introduction of a KOMPAKT crew made up of Jörg Burger, Wolfgang and Reinhard Voigt the tempo is lifted. Where 'We Like To Party' is a statement of intent, 'Disco Dancer' is pure poetry in motion. An undeniable groove glistens throughout before a dramatic breakdown turns the track on its head completely.
The first track that contains full vocals, 'Mind Games' is a breath of fresh air with Ed Macfarlane helping to create what is essentially a very well crafted electro pop song.
There's more vocal goodness on 'Comfort Me' too, courtesy of Irene Kalisvaart. Her gentle monologue is soothing in the early stages before singing takes over and builds elegantly. The end result is a gorgeous track that serves as a delicious palette cleanser following the urgency of 'La Compostela' before it.
'Und Da Stehen Fremde Menschen' ('And Since Standing Strangers' in English) sees Mayer joined by Barnt for a sinister toe tapper that samples German rock band Stern Meissen to great effect. This makes for a beguiling banger and one of the most interesting tracks on the record.
&'s moody closing track, Cicadella, is excellent. Beginning with tribal drums and that sample heard in 'King Kunta', 'Jamaica Funk' and a tonne of other records, it grows in stature with the addition of piano tones and a softly pounding beat.
Mayer shows his class throughout this album and it genuinely is very special. Each hook up is its own separate entity but they all come together to create one cohesive, collaborative effort.