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mirko uhlig: supper

tokafi []
webzine, germany, december 2008

Mirko Uhlig: Emancipates on "Supper"

Perhaps the most rewarding part about growing up is discovering life's irrational angles as an aspect of beauty: "When you reach the point of throwing all socialising bullshit sticking like leeches at music's pretty face overboard, you're merely following the entirely logical way of listening to whatever you like", Mirko Uhlig says about the seemingly incongruent influences of his latest full-length "Supper", "Listening to Abba and Cannibal Corpse in the same hour. Why not. At a certain point in your life it's okay and important to have a narrow-minded taste in music, because it offers you a sense of identity and allegiance. But emancipation has to come eventually." Almost apologetically (but not really), he adds: "Ok, "Supper" is my musical emancipation."

It is much more than that, of course. For anyone who has followed Uhlig's career from its earliest ruminations with his self-released Aalfang mit Pferdekopf debut "Im Schlachthaus Blühen Die Blumen" into the present, discovering that the man behind much applauded goodies like "Fragment 36" on Bremen-based Drone Records or his penultimate little masterpiece in minimalism and silence "The Nightmiller" on Mystery Sea fosters a serious crush for Prog Rock in general and Genesis epochal "Supper's Ready" in particular may initially come as a suprise. But the signs were always clear, as much as they were sometimes shrouded by the hazy light of dadaism and punk, and they were there for insiders and newbies to be read, contemplated and interpreted alike.

While older work like "Ich habe nur noch 12 Seepferdchen in meinem Tempel" processed Uhlig's influences more or less directly as part of a collage-like approach, "Supper" deals with the subject matter of collegial inspiration more discreetly – or "metaphorically" so to speak: "This is what I call a conceptual reference album", Uhlig delineates his philosophy in the press release to the album, "Not that it puts up any standards in some sort or being a reference for whatever or whoever, no - it simply deals with references of my listening past and present."

Having said that, the record is still anything but monochromatic and certainly a great deal more eclectic than its immediate predecessor: "The new album sounds much more heterogeneous, because sources from different chronological periods were used. "The Nightmiller" was based on three acoustic guitar sketches whereas every track on "Supper" has different foster parents - of course set in an incestious environment. The most interesting input came from Marcus Obst (Dronaement) playing his wrenched Weltraumorgel. Just two simple chords that I looped over and over again, hypnotising me while I was listening to them and cooking at the same time. I only added the lead-out groove noise of my "Foxtrot" LP later."

On another occasion, musical memories are more openly spelled out in full: "Another odd ingredient can be heard on the last offcial title "Old Clouds", a set of electric guitar recordings from 2001. Recorded with the most ridiculous equipment you can imagine. And for those who can stand the whole album, I put some folk-sheep-ambient as a hidden track. At least this one breaks up some musical homogeneity."

As with almost all of his albums, "Supper", too, underwent some major changes during its creational process. The first draft was called "The Glacial Angle" and offered an aptly frosty and bleak perspective, replete with music which Uhlig now describes as "aloof". A second version turned this concept around by 180 degrees, with "My Child Goes To the Surf" functioning as a sort of inverse image. In the meantime, Uhlig had been drawing blood from the first three Steve Hackett albums while simultaneously working on a new Aalfang mit Pferedekopf album by the name of "Flight of the Verdant Birds". The parallelity of past and present suddenly presented him with the outlines of a conceptual direction – and ultimately resulted in "Supper" being published and "Flight of the Verdant Birds" being discarded for the foresable future.

The fact that "Supper" is now being released on Italian label Afe, run by Sound Artist Andrea Marutti, is by no means a coincidence. "Charisma would probably have dropped Genesis at the time, if their fans in Italy, where "Foxtrot" shot straight to number one, hadn't supported them", Uhlig explains, "At least I liked the idea of involving the label's provenance into the whole concept. Without Andrea Marutti's fellow countrymen, the young Mirko wouldn't have had a glimpse of a chance of doing the lover's leap at all. So a very big "Thank You!" to him and his enthusiasm." Taking a bow to his childhood, Uhlig seems to have accepted that this phase is definitely over. The warmth and charm radiated by "Supper", meanwhile, show that coming of age need not always end in disillusionment and dread.

[Tobias Fischer]