Boomkat Product Review:
We’re f*cking buzzing to tick Mappa Mundi’s enigmatic 1990 ambient album ‘Musaics’ off the vinyl wishlist, with thanks to Brian Not Brian’s Midnight Drive reissue schedule, who’ve necessarily expanded it from single LP to a 2xLP primed to play loud
A rugged outlier on the cusp of ambient sea change ‘80s into ‘90s, ‘Musaics’ presents 6 soundscapes realised by Jan Van De Bergh and Pieter Kuyl in “spontaneous sessions” with a sampler, drum machines and a computer circa 1990. The results are absolutely choice examples of that era, ranging from tuff but deep breakbeats to dead sexy proto-Goa styles including the lusting ‘Sexafari’ and languorous classic ‘Trance Fusion’, as recently hailed by Hunee and also reissued in the ‘Antwerp Bio Techno 1989-94’ EP.
So yeh, a favourite of ours for a good few years now, ‘Musaics’ is a little world unto itself, folding in all stripes of environmental sounds, acidic synths and lithe rhythms to terraform a psychedelic rave dream just prior to it all tipping into “hardcore”. As they state int he liner notes, the duo arrived art this style serendipitously via simply mixing two records together with a mixer. That might sound easy and obvious, but remember this was the start of Europeans pissing around on two turntables, finding that mythical 3rd track, and attempting to recreate its imaginary clash of textures, tones and grooves.
Like UK producers who were also applying the same Hip Hop-based ideas with a twisted lip and at faster tempos, Mappa Mundi did it slower, psychedelic, but still with a rugged appeal. It’s there everywhere from the very Bristolian parallels of opener ‘Urbi Et Mori’ with its depth charge subs, to the aforementioned beauty ‘Sexafari’ and its writhing 808s, to the mix of didgeridoo and rap knocks in ‘Serendipity (Take 1)’, and thru to full swing break in ‘The Oracle’ or the New Jack Swang of ‘Wölfli’, but hardly better than on ‘Trance Fusion’, one of the sexiest, enchating 11 minutes of slow dance music produced in 1990.