Mannheim Rocket LPMannheim Rocket

Mannheim Rocket LP

Label: 3BS Records
Format: 12”/Digital
Release Date: 15/08/2014

Twenty years ago, I may have been forgiven for having as little knowledge as I do of music from the other side of the world. Now however, I have no excuse. With the frenzied cross-cultural chatter of the Internet, transcontinental communication has become so commonplace that it sometimes feels as if where you live is relative only to the speed of your WiFi. From my own perspective, the main source of transmissions emanating from Australia lately has been from Sydney-based label 3BS. For the last three years, 3BS have been pushing experimental techno, house, and all manner of unclassifiable music from down under, with a keen ear for rich, synthetic soundscapes and moody down-tempo jams. The label’s founder, Jonathan Papert is a proprietor of this sound in his own right, and his eponymous debut LP sets forth the manifesto for the label, placing earthy timbres within unearthly settings. 

‘Liberation’ opens the album with a vacuum of swelling strings, liberating the listener up into a heavenly expanse. The beat underneath punctuates saintly ambience with every pulse, rooting the sound firmly in the ground with the soft thud of an elephant’s march. Eventually, the magnetic pulse of the groove gives way to a wall of otherworldly hums, creating a twirling wormhole of organs and strings – a marked highlight of the whole LP. By contrast, ‘Hora Lunga’ submerges the sound back under the surface, with one colossal wave of warm pads, like a submarine resignedly sinking to the ocean’s floor. Even with the glitched breakbeat interspersed throughout, the track doesn’t lose its sense of naturalism, instead recontextualising these ultramodern timbres amongst the Eastern instrumentation. Papert has stated in the past that his initial aim of the Mannheim project was to introduce aspects of modern classical to a wider audience, so the extensive inclusion of instruments across time and space is an intentional one.

Something of a centerpiece to the album, ‘Oubliees’ (roughly, French for ‘forgotten’), is an epic twelve-minute homage to memory and nostalgia, sprinkling half-remembered sepia-toned pianos over an achingly morose modular synth line that whirs like the circuit board of a space shuttle. ‘Schuon’ concludes the LP like the rolling credits of a film. A piano loop skips as if stuck on repeat whilst uncanny, alien vocals chime in to say their farewells.

At only four tracks and thirty-five minutes, Papert’s debut effort seems cruelly concise, giving us a mere appetiser of his potential future output. As the loops of the final track gradually fade into the backdrop, there is a growing sense that there is a teeming wealth of music of this caliber yet to come from both Papert himself and 3BS more generally. We just can’t see it… yet.

  • Published
  • Oct 28, 2014