MILE ME DEAF - Alien Age
Wolfgang Möstl is probably the most important figurehead of the Austrian indie music scene. I first stumbled across him about ten years ago when I heard his noisy guitar band Killed By 9V Batteries, who I soon saw in a furious live concert the memory of which still makes my ears ring. Not long after, he was in two other bands, Mile Me Deaf and Sex Jams, who, although not as brazen as KB9VB, could still be considered indie rock bands. Then, in 2015, Möstl broke a finger which prevented him from playing the guitar. So he twiddled around with an AKAI sampler, and when his finger was good as new again, he decided that new the new – and sixth already – album didn’t really that many live instruments, and consequently Alien Age became something like a solo album. Apart from some guest vocals, among others from Sex Jams vocalist Katarina Maria Trenk, it’s only Wolfgang Möstl you will hear on this album.
This is quite a break from what he did in the past, and frankly this experiment could have gone wrong on so many different labels, but it didn’t. Not only that it didn’t, but in the end it turns out that Alien Age is one of the best and most daring albums Möstl has done in his busy career. The fact that the songs are full of samples, plus some live instruments, makes for a very dense sound, and thanks to the eloquently transparent production, you will discover new things every time you listen to it. This is headphone music at its best. While the beats are programmed and/or stolen from dubious sources, we get a warm analogue sound from the always appreciated Omnichord, and the playful nature of the music is displayed by some circuit-bent toys.
The opener Invent Anything is a superb piece of songwriting, and despite all the strange sounds permeating the track, it still feels like some kind of pop song, albeit one from some future times, or as Möstl himself claims: post-humanism. The following Blowout continues in that vein, with the vocals really fitting well with the science fictional music. At times I feel reminded of the later Of Montreal, another indie rock band that later turned its face to a more avantgarde setting. On Shibuya+, the vocals are taken over by Sex Jams vocalist Katarina Maria Trenk, giving the song a very svelte and sexy mood. The short The World We Own comes with some bizarre horns, probably borrowed off an old Austrian folklore cassette tape, and yet it again sounds like the perfect pop song.
I could go on describing every track, but I believe it’s better you take that journey of discovery by yourself. Although I want to point out the dubby Headnote #2 with its incredibly trippy sound and also Where Else which made it into the American TV show This Is Us, currently really liked by the Millennial generation. The album ends on the epic Martian Blood, and eight-minute tour de force which starts with some cranky guitar beats, maybe a nod to the artist’s past.
While I always really like all three of Wolfgang Möstl’s bands, I still have to say that they were all guitar rock acts. Mile Me Deaf departed that direction in an orthogonal direction, blasting off to the stars. The great songwriting, the intelligent production and Möstl’s distinctive voice will make sure though that those familiar with his previous work will find access to Alien Age. Just imagine Of Montreal teaming up with The Avalanches, and you come close to what Mile Me Deaf sound in the year 2017, except that Möstl might even have surpassed these artists on his delightful and very playful new album.