Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google+ Share on Reddit Share on Pinterest Share on Linkedin Share on Tumblr Kompakt co-founder Michael Mayer has rarely been known for his production, but is revered instead for his elegant, laid-back DJing. His seminal Immer series stands as one of the finest mixing showcases around, to say nothing of his copious official and digital mixes. In a nearly two-decade-long career, Mayer is only now releasing his third LP, &. But if an album of original material is an aberration in his typical output, the DJ plays to his strengths as an arranger and mixer by enlisting the help of numerous collaborators to give the tracks the unpredictability and overlapping voices of a set instead of the consistent vision of a single producer. The record is remarkably varied. Opener “We Like to Party,” recorded with Roman Flügel, is a bright, summertime piece of easygoing techno, all chiming synths and mildly jittery beats. But compare that to the next track, “Disco Dancers,” which starts with ominous drones before dropping into a throwback disco composition with rubbery bass, squelched synth lines and even a Chic sample. Surprisingly, Voigt, known for his extremely minimal production, is the listed collaborator here (along with his sometimes partner Jörg Burger). The uncharacteristic nature of the track suggests that Mayer is not simply gleaning from artists working comfortably in their own style but is pushing them in new directions as well. As the album wears on, it ping-pongs around the various corners of Mayer’s breadth. Brazilian producer and fellow Kompakt artist Gui Boratto brings out the label’s trademark digital pastoralism on “State of the Nation,” which gently builds like a sunrise. “Voyage Interieur” is pure Italo disco, complete with spoken female vocals and plodding, coked-out bassline. Closing track “Cicadelia” takes the buzzing of cicadas and makes an ambient backdrop out of it, gradually filling in the foreground with tribal drums, flute and the occasional trill of a guitar. Elsewhere, though, Mayer ventures far beyond the usual confines of his label. “For You” is almost synthpop, with Joe Goddard’s detached vocals over spacious, mid-range synths and occasional blurts of bass. This isn’t pop ambient, it’s just pop. But the two most forward-thinking tracks come with the assistance of avant-garde producers. “Und Da Stehen Fremde Menschen,” made with Barnt, is a dubby piece of fractured techno, each element separated by gulfs of space. Underlaid with a sinister energy only compounded by the faint intrusion of strings and vocals that sound piped in from a ‘40s radio, the track is maybe the most unsettling thing that has ever borne Mayer’s name. Hauschka also contributes to the album in the form of “La Compostela,” which feels more like a piece of composition than production. Hammered strings clatter lightly before exploding into a rave underpinned by chiming bells and regularly interrupted with squeaks and beats. The whole thing sounds like a lost track recovered from the height of Europe’s rave boom in the ‘90s, an arty, jungle-esque take on mainstream house. If Mayer is not exactly known for his own tracks, & is an ingenious way to create according to his usual parameters. The lack of a unifying narrative or aesthetic is not a sign of sloppiness but of shrewd calculation; by changing up the style with each cut, the LP never settles into the tedium that blots a number of techno full-lengths. Mayer brings to !K7 the kind of leftfield progressiveness that typically marks his house label. There’s something exciting about seeing an artist work around their limitations, and Mayer’s resourcefulness is arguably as thrilling as the music itself.