Mitra Mitra – “Mitra Mitra” (LP/cassette/digital, 2016)
Theoretically, “mitra mitra” is Latin for sea slug. Musically, it is storming the sea, a brave experiment echoing sharply into the distance, its electronic signal reaching far beyond the sea horizon.
A joint effort between New Zealand-born Violet Candide and UK-born Mahk Rumbae, Mitra Mitra recently delivered their very first proper, conceptually strong studio LP. Although the duo formed approximately a year ago, and a mere few live appearances and audio contributions to the local underground music circuit, the buzz became deservedly loud with anticipation.
Both reside in Vienna and are musically active in other projects – Violet collaborates with Bildplatte, a prolific one-man project by Viennese Wolfgang Holota, while Mahk simultaneously operates in a number of collaboration and solo-projects – among these, Farbfelde, Codex Empire, Oppenheimer MKII and Dim Electrics stand out on their own solid feet, while for the last twenty-something years he is also the musical director for Glenn Wallis’ cult experimental outfit Konstruktivists.
Prior to their debut LP release, Mitra Mitra appeared on one of Totally Wired Records’ promo samplers (their debut feature with the song “Heat”), following exposure on Peripheral Minimal’s digital compilation “Exhibit I” (the Oppenheimer MKII remix version of the mentioned song), culminating with the recently released 7″ single for Polytechnic Youth label, which was literally grabbed within days of its release. The dynamic of Rumbae’s hypnotically sharp beats and synthetic harmonies along with Candide’s ear-pleasant spoken-word and singing parts make it a winning combination.
Within seconds of “Metrolumen”, the album brings a smile to the face. A kind of introduction to the album, it avoids any potential filler traps without difficulty – the opening track paves way to a successive number of minimal smash-hits; “Blender” and “Heat” already have regular spins within the underground clubs’ circuit – further the ear digs, it just can’t get enough – the stunning “Headspin” (with a brutal lyric sheet, as if from a disturbing news report), naive-ish “Cockatoo” and the fiery “Digital Hue” all add to Side A’s honourable list of songs. “Indecisive Split Decision” (identical to the Polytechnic Youth 7″ version) opens side B and continues in restless joy – “Ladybird” is a downright hysterical glitchy masterpiece of a track, followed by the creepy ambience of “Shhh”. “Seismic Waves” continues in similar, slower pace, very close to a soundtrack theme from a futuristic disaster film. The killer track “Opportunity” (recently the duo presented its official video for the song) speeds up, with its simplistic, yet effective conclusion – “Information overload causes amnesia”. “Micromort” (which also refers to the duo’s own label for this particular LP release) serves a purpose of an effective closing number, as if accompanying the imaginary film’s end rolling credits. At the same time, this particular tune kind-of speaks from behind its wall of synthetic noise – tonally, it characterises uncertainty, as if in a form of a pleasantly brutal warning that more is yet to come.
Themes explored on the album may deal with dystopia that keeps inspiring the synth music world – but the key to presenting such themes successfully and without pretention, lies in the proper choice of words, in order to express the concern, as well as making a strong artistic statement of intent. The duo combines experience with aesthetic wit and delivers solid gold material as a result. Doubters may say Mitra Mitra only add to the minimal synth music hype that’s been around for a number of years now, flooded with names sharing a similar approach in order to explore and exploit the angular synth sound for their own ends – however, Mitra Mitra are smart, confident and precise in their own making, with attention paid to every detail and performing exquisitely with a touch of cool.
The vinyl record is sold out as we speak. A ltd edition cassette is also released (on the US Modern Tapes label). Without doubt, this is one of the highlights in the year 2016.