Micromanagement

Following a long lineage, Germany's independent producers maximize minimalism

Allien, however, never relinquished her love of melancholy music. Her own recent Berlinette full-length is full of crinkly, crystalline percolation. Vocoder vocals are rhythmic elements that mesh seamlessly with the robo-funk precision, yet also serve to humanize the pointillist throb.

She cites other producers such as Ricardo Villalobos, a critical favorite thanks to last year's Alcachofa, as furthering the form. Drawing on his Chilean heritage, he injects what Allien calls "a sweetness" into his lightly churning yearning. He does not neglect hooks, which she cites as a mark of the new production aesthetic; good "minimal" music, she says, isn't afraid to include catchy melodies, as long as producers avoid unnecessary glamour, which equals pop. The right harmonic elements, however, allow the listener access to a range of moods.

"You have room when producing melancholic music for your own fantasies," says Allien. "You can close your eyes and dream about your last holiday, your last love; people and places that leave you lovesick. This is a powerful transportation of feelings. It is important in music to have room to dream. With commercial production the sound is very full and there is no room for a person, but with microbeats there is something very sexy because you decide how to relate."

Mayer agrees with this belief: "There is a lot of thoughtful music coming out, especially out of Cologne, because our generation, people around 30, had a gorgeous time in the Nineties -- very hedonistic -- but the party decayed. Now we are more aware of the realities, that we desire not just communal experience but a community when we go out; I don't want to be forced to be happy when I go to a club. I want music that is expressive, but I also want to be able to have quiet moments in a loud place."

Stockhausen would be proud.

Michael Mayer and Superpitcher perform on Tuesday, March 9, at Goddess. See listings for more info.

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