Get Off


emember Mego? During 2002, Fennesz’s Endless Summer introduced the Austrian digital-noise shredders to the world. Mego became the sweetheart of the hipster glitterati. The label had an attitude—a punk-ish screw-music-let’s-burn-this-place-down ethos that looked pretty in print. Their sound was new and exclusive—only laptops allowed. In short, Mego lived on the sharp side of the cutting edge.

But in electronic music no one stays on the cutting edge for long. Mego has fallen on hard times in critical circles (as much as that matters), and despite a healthy release schedule, the label’s star has dimmed.

But keep the faith. Pita (Peter Rehberg, co-founder of Mego) redeems digital noise on Get Off. To do so, he ditches both his label and much of the over-the-top static screams that mar many Mego releases. Pita serves harsh noise in small bursts to accent his compositions, rather than using it as constant grating filler. And without this crutch, Pita is free. Get Off is his most varied, beautiful, and fun release to date.

The album starts off unexpectedly. “Eternel” is not a full frontal assault, but a dark wash of ambience—the sound of huge hungry creatures lurching at the bottom of the sea—laced with a high-frequency tone that shrieks in a way both beautifully mournful and ear-testing.

“Eternel” gives way to the highlight of the album “Like Watching Shit on a Shelf.” In Mr. Rehberg’s defense, his prankster attitude must be the reason this stately, amazing track has one of the most awful titles I’ve been forced to write. It opens with gorgeous organ-like swells that meander gracefully until the noise hammer drops violently. The rest of the song is a frenzied battle between beauty and ugliness. Surprisingly, it is reminiscent of the best moments of Godspeed You! Black Emperor: a sustained crescendo ringing with conflict and redemption.

The album loses some momentum with the Pan Sonic impersonations of “Resog 45” and “More Break after the Terror,” but it picks up again on “By Both.” In it, a ceiling-fan pulse throbs uncomfortably over ugly crunches, high frequency bee swarms, and hyperactive violin-gone-mad digital squiggles. The pulse adds an uneasiness to the track that magnifies the menace of the song until you feel like running out of the room, jaws clenched.

But this menace is left behind completely in the stunning closer “Retour.” The song is minimal, populated only by ringing tones that transform from bells to alarms as the sounds overlap. The pensive mood is punctuated by the quiet string-pluck of an acoustic guitar at the end of the track. After a harrowing display of haywire, sparking circuits, “Retour” is respite—both lovely and comforting.

This album will change your preconceptions about noise. Noise is not often about splitting ears for the sake of it, rather it is often a product of too many ideas. This is certainly the case in Get Off. Mr. Rehberg still has vision, so perhaps you should keep your eye on Mego after all.

Reviewed by: Bryan Berge

Reviewed on: 2005-02-09

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