“When done right, a build up that starts from next to nothing and turns into an all encompassing monolith of sound and texture is one of the best musical experiences one can go through. Gladly, the music we cover here on The Silent Ballet is brimming with all sorts of build ups using all different kinds of instrumentation from guitars and drums to synths and electronics or just layers of ambience and drones, with all yielding brilliant results. They suck the audience in and make them feel like they’re part of what’s happening – a living, breathing component witnessing the development of a whole new ecosystem around them. With time they become smaller, their existence loses importance, and they become bystanders in a fully fledged world of sound. When done right, it’s highly unlikely that any complaints will surface; most will sit back and take this as an opportunity to feel true awe and wonder, then replay it and feel it all over again. It’s a process of life, one that would take eons to develop in the real world, but in music (or art in general) it’s only a matter of minutes.
If anything, ‘Komo,’ the first half of’s In is exactly that. It is a process of constant repetition and tension building with each tiny fragment or loop coming in to focus, one by one, little by little, to end up as an emphatically crushing work of art. The intricacy of the sounds and the amount of attention Mehr puts into this track shows on every listen; it never gets boring or old, even though the sum of its components wouldn’t exceed ten or twelve layers. It is minimalism that gives birth to the epic, intelligent music that takes over its listeners and engages them to its very dying moments. The sliced waves of reverb, the aggravated yet despairing speech sample that scorns the banality of present day human beings, and the gigantic noise chords (which I assume are guitar chords processed through an infinite loop of filters and bit crushers) come in to seal the deal and give the track its shock value, something that would pin the listener down under its mighty weight. The little dips in volume in the looping strings add anxiety and translate this uncertainty. “Komo” might as well be the first truly epic track of 2012 so far.
Alas, this doesn’t apply to the second half of the album. ‘Ostinato,’ which also clocks in at approximately twenty-five minutes, picks up on its predecessor’s intensity and starts promisingly, but it ends up being too static for its own good. Repetition and experimental music go hand in hand, especially when the music is on the more minimalistic side of the experimental spectrum. It works like a double edged sword; the results are either sheer elation with an almost unbreakable bond created between the music and its receiver that makes one want to listen to the same thing over and over again, or absolute boredom. ‘Ostinato’ lies in the grey area between both experiences. One is taken back by its strong, emotionally heavy beginnings, but with time the effect wanes and the track just becomes too long for its own good. It does have its moments of brilliance, though. The introduction of brass instruments at points and the buried clean guitar fiddling in the background would be the clear highlights. The element that doesn’t work, however, is in fact what made ‘Komo’ as brilliant as it is: timing. Whereas in the first track one can feel that each and every second of the song is meticulously crafted, the second seems hurried. Leaving the track to loop for ages unattended, even with brief stretches of modification, brings it, and thus the album, down.
In, which is supposedly the first of three themed releases, with the next two to follow in June (On) and January (Off), shows the facet of Mehr’s music that we had witnessed in his debut, Lava: the emphasis on thick layers of sound and repetition, the ability to take the audience’s attention hostage for a period of time only to let go when he feels like it. We see it here at its best thus far, but it still needs work. The upcoming two releases should be even more exciting as they promise to showcase even more experimental sides to his music, and that’s definitely worth waiting for.”