Rehberg represents the meat and potatoes of European computer music.
Peter Rehberg represents the meat and potatoes of European computer music. An early signee to the legendary Mego label, the British-Austrian producer took it on himself to revive the company as Editions Mego in 2005; as the man who signed Oneohtrix Point Never and Emeralds, he’s something like the John Hammond of the avant-garde. But unlike some of his discoveries, his music makes no compromises and has no interest in crossover appeal. Since the 2000s, he’s been making variations on the same record: short, bracing, playful and less interested in maintaining a consistent tone than showing what exactly one can do with a laptop and a couple good ideas. After Get Out, Get Up, Get Off and Get In, his latest is Get On.
The most striking development of Rehberg’s sound on Get On is the incorporation of techno rhythms from his early days as a DJ in Vienna’s clubs. “Frozen Jumper” has a strong sixteenth-note pulse that aligns it with the relentless, pumping sound beloved in the clubs of his German neighbors, though there are too many other eccentric things happening for it to be danceable. It gets smeared into a sheet of ambient sound in its second half, anyway. “AMFM” slips and slides around, its use of the pitch-glide feature (the notes gradually slide to one another rather than one simply coming after the other as with most melodies) revealing Rehberg’s playfulness.
The rest is ambient music. “Two Top Five” is like the final moments of “Frozen Jumper” run through an extra layer of abstraction, creating a nice bit of anticipation between “Jumper” and the itchy, restless “Aching Moth Pool.” The last track, taking up nearly half the album at 15 minutes, is “Motivation.” Its name must be a joke, because it makes us want to fall asleep; it’s a seething pool of dark ambient not unlike something Mego legend Kevin Drumm might knock out in a more subdued moment. It might’ve sounded better in the middle of the album, letting the listener forget what’s going on before getting shocked back to life with another tech-noise track. As the finale, it’s a little disappointing. We get to it and realize the album’s basically over.
It’s an odd thing to say about a man whose albums are almost invariably 30-something-minute slabs of insular computer punk, but Get On feels a bit slight. It’s only five tracks long, and so little happens during “Motivation” compared to on the first side it’s as if he’s saying goodbye to us for 15 minutes. Tracks that dominate an album’s runtime like this should provide a payoff instead of opening a lacuna. Rehberg takes a long time between Pita albums. I’d say he should hold up his end of the deal by giving us a more satisfying album, but he’s not the kind of artist people wait with bated breath to release new music. He fiddles with his machines, they spit something out every couple years, he retreats back to the darkness. It’s not a bad way to work.