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¥784 the_empath. meanwhile. cd. october2k10.



at the heart of it all *.mp3
future space junk *.mp3
imperfectness *.mp3
burden of the past *.mp3
ultima thule *.mp3
planetarium *.mp3
silberstreif *.mp3
no need to be famous *.mp3
zeitblase *.mp3
meanwhile *.mp3
serenity *.mp3
waldmensch *.mp3

god, grant me the serenity to accept the things i cannot change, courage to change the things i can, and wisdom to know the difference.
(reinhold niebuhr: the prayer of serenity)

the_empath, aka mike erkau, has been part of electronic music since 1993 and he started releasing his own work on cdrs in 1999. shortly after he began to do remixes for other artists and won the 2004 congress of media award in the audio category. the award was for his remix of 'no protection' (originally by utr). four years later he turned the tables by releasing the 'second earth remix project' which included remixes of his work by ab ovo, def, fractional, heimstatt yipotash, sunao inami and others (more info: . at the same time as an media engineer and tutor, mike was able to acquire advanced technical skills in video technology. his live appearances are always combined with a video performance which is strictly balanced to the tracks (a good example is consider:noize and elektroanschlag). since 2005 he has been working as a video composer and vj for xabec (aka manuel g. richter; who also mastered the_empath's first album on hymen records: meanwhile).

this album was recorded over the last five years and demonstrates the_empath's current state. the music was not created to exist in an isolated artistic vacuum - each track was made as a result of specific thoughts, meanings and impressions. this is not art for art's sake. a sampling of items that made this album possible: technology turning from today's state-of-the-art to tomorrow's future space junk, arbitrary anxiety of imperfectness, burdens of the past which are only visible to adepts, an imaginary image of ultima thule (a place located beyond the borders of the known world), a score to fictitious thriller.
however this is just sampling of what meanwhile is about.

the_empath's music ranges between ambient and electronica with organic industrial audio components. a stimulating flow of imaginative soundscapes, complex rhythmic textures, mixtures of experimental electronics, field recordings and ground loops. crystal clear tones meet thrilling low frequencies that are mastered with an impressive amount of dynamics. the result of this electronic crucible is a powerful mind infiltrating compound - devotees of intelligent electronics will be reminded (in concept - this is not a derivative work) of early autechre, beefcake and gridlock. in short, fans of good music will take a shine to mike erkau's work. enjoy!

a review in russian language can be found on the machinist's webpage:
mitunter dauert es ja sehr lange, bis ein projekt endlich mal ein album veröffentlicht. so existiert das industrial-projekt the_empath schon seit dem jahre 1993, hat sich bislang aber hauptsächlich mit der arbeit an remixe für andere musikprojekte hervorgetan. 2004 wurde dann angefangen, an meanwhile zu arbeiten, welches nun endlich fertig geworden ist. klar, dass man sich in so einem langen zeitraum viel in detailarbeit stürzen kann, um ein album zu einer richtig runden sache zu machen. nicht nur diese lange zeitspanne, sondern auch die musik zeugen davon, was der hinter dem projekt stehende mike erkau für ein perfektionist ist. auf meanwhile geschieht nichts zufällig, das wird einem schnell klar. bässe, sprach-samples: alles hat seinen klaren platz und sorgt für die jeweilige stimmung. zu hören sind dabei mal elemente aus idm, mal ambient-passagen, mal einfach industrial, die zusammen sehr komplexe melodien ergeben, die sich einem nur sehr langsam erschließen. dies macht zwar das album auch schwer zu hören, aber gerade das werden freunde dieser musikrichtung schnell zu schätzen wissen, kann man sich hier richtig gut dran abarbeiten. letztendlich ist meanwhile somit auch ein album, dass man nur fans der materie ans herz legen kann. zwar ist die platte nicht anstrengend zu hören, sich auf dieser zurechtzufinden dagegen schon. und um das letztendlich zu können, muss man einiges an zeit investieren. und ob man dazu bereit ist, muss man letztendlich selber wissen. (tristan osterfeld)

chroniques électroniques
pour être tout à fait honnête, je n'avais jamais entendu parler de the empath avant de découvrir ce nouvel opus. mike erkau serait originaire de leipzig et proche du label bien noisy hands productions. il a depuis plus de dix ans sorti un bon paquet d'albums, pour la plupart publiés sur subroom medialab. en voilà un autre qui ne peut que bénéficier de l'exposition que va lui procurer une sortie sur le légendaire label allemand hymen records. nostalgiques de l'âge d'or des idoles warpiennes, ce disque est fait pour vous. en effet, ceux qui ont légitimement adoré les premiers disques (les moins complexes aussi) d'autechre et de plaid risquent d'être conquis. pour également s'hasarder à trouver une filiation plus germanique, citons beefcake, qui ont eux aussi brillé sur hymen en leur temps. résolument downtempo, meanwhile explore des trajectoires aux reliefs accidentés. les nappes sont profondes et insondables, nous transportant parfois vers des cimes où des eaux limpides et minérales prennent leur source (les somptueux at the heart of it all et imperfectness). le traitement pneumatique et la texture métallique et rouilée des beats donnent parfois aux eaux précédemment citées une couleur plus nauséabonde et saumâtre (future space junk et le terrible ultima thule). bien loin de ces considérations sur l'éventuelle évocation du niveau d'usure des nappes phréatiques, the empath érige en musique des édifices naturels où règnent des visions de contraste et de reliefs tantôt abrupts, puis plus accueillants. même si la dimension mélodique prend ici l'ascendant sur la maîtrise technique, l'oreille avertie constatera qu'en matière de polissage de la texture et du grain, l'allemand n'a pas grand chose à envier à ses contemporains. par la suite, erkau explore des contrées plus inattendues, plus progressives et moins industrielles, comme sur les très spatiaux (dédicace aux fans de blade runner) planetarium et silberstreif. les sillons plus sinueux et plus riches reviennent sur le magistralement écorché no need to be famous et ses putains de basses absorbantes. on regrette gentiment que le tempo ne se soit pas plus souvent emballé comme sur zeitblase. alors que notre nouvel ami allemand nous offre ensuite une vision inattendue et sinistre de la serenity, la fresque waldmensch, et ses mouvements lents et bucoliques viennent clore un nouveau splendide chapitre des contes sombres pour adultes torturés, distribués par hymen records. cette saluable entreprise dépourvue de toutes velléités révolutionnaires aurait pu s'avérer linéaire et "déjà entendu". il n'en est rien. on peut même dire que c'est plus que réussi, même si certains tracks en fin d'album auraient mérité d'être un peu plus aboutis. meanwhile est un album tout à fait recommandable, en premier lieu à ceux qui doutaient qu'il y avait une suite à la désormais ancienne odyssée warpienne. bisou. (ed loxapac)

enochian apocalypse
with the main body of this artists work coming in the form of cdr albums he has cemented himself a fairly good cult status amongst the underground over the past few years and more power to mike erkau for doing so. as a full official album release this is to be honest the first time i have personally been exposed to this project and i am pleasantly happy with what i have found. a lot of the main body of this album reminds of ‘beefcake’ in some ways and this is no bad thing as ‘meanwhile’ also has a lot of its own merits to bring to the table with such a respected artist possibly being such an influence, melding the two with ease. the majority of the sound on ‘meanwhile’ is built on a vast array of space and ambience, indeed a chunk of this is sourced from field recordings; but thankfully a lot of these are there to fill out the gaps rather than become the main embodiment of the tracks. lush pads filter throughout this release and the album has a very clean feel to it; whilst refreshing and uplifting as this can be it sometimes feels as though this is being applied as an antiseptic and you almost wish that ‘the_empath’ had the heart to get a little dirtier and meaner with his listeners. i note that the artist does a heck of a lot of visual works for people live and so forth; i have also seen a few of the video pieces that he has made to his tracks and this is where the songs shine at their most brightest. (tony young)

da ist es wieder, das weltall. und beinahe schwebend rasen wir an sonnensystemen vorbei und hindurch. die musik dazu liefert the empath mit „meanwhile“, dem allerdings ausgesprochen bewusst ist, dass es neben herrlich farbigen planeten auch finstere schwarze löcher gibt. entsprechend reichen die zwölf songs auf dem neuen album von ambient und hypnose bis hin zu verzerrten beats, soundpassagen im stil der einstürzenden neubauten und trümmerfragmenten explodierter satelliten. und so, wie träumer zwar musik nicht aber gesprochenes wort im all hören können, bedient sich the empath menschgewordener stimmen nur dann, wenn „meanwhile“ kurz an der erde vorbeirauscht. kein geniestreich, für klangtüftler aber eine quelle der inspiration. (manfred thomaser)

dark entries
mike erkau, de man achter dit project uit leipzig, maakt al van 1993 deel uit van de electroscene en begon in 1999 met het uitbrengen van een reeks cdr’s onder de naam the_empath. hymen records, sublabel van ant-zen brengt nu zijn eerste cd-album op de markt. op “meanwhile” staan 69 minuten (12 tracks) sfeervolle, intelligente instrumentale electro. het geheel is erg ambient getint al duikt er wel heel frequent een beat op. verwacht echter niets dansbaars. “meanwhile” is een rustig album met een complexe ritmische textuur, een mix van experimentele electronica, field recordings en ground loops. u kan zich verwachten aan een stimulerende flow van inventieve soundscapes – eerder dromerig dan duister – in een harmonisch geheel van kristalheldere tonen en lage frequenties. in de jaren ’70 hadden we kraftwerk en tangerine dream, in de jaren ’90 acts als nigra nebula en in de jaren 2010 hebben we the_empath. leuk, maar niet baanbrekend. (henk vereecken)

mike erkau is de man achter the_empath. met “meanwhile” heeft hij een dijk van een album afgeleverd. het is zijn eerste voor hymen records, maar zeker niet zijn debuutalbum. mike erkau loopt al sinds de vroege jaren 90 mee, zo lezen we in de persinformatie. “meanwhile” is het resultaat van circa vijf jaar werk. het resultaat mag er zijn! het album biedt kristalheldere producties, waarbij ladingen aan (experimentele) elektronica bestanddelen voorbij schieten. van fraaie soundscapes tot ‘field recordings’ en complexe ritmestructuren. juist de doordachte combinaties van elementen maakt dit album zo de moeite waard. openingstrack “at the heart of it all” verwoord als het ware treffend het verhaal van het artwork – een rustieke (dark) ambient meets elektronica/idm track. daarna beginnen de ritmes enthousiaster te rollen, (soms) ratelen en meer naar de voorgrond te treden. het album “meanwhile” is een schot in de roos voor liefhebbers van bijvoorbeeld autechre’s oudere werk. met “zeitblase” wordt ook een subtiele knipoog richting squarepusher geplaatst, zo lijkt het. sterk in vele opzichten!
disegno electro/ambient/industrial tedesco personificato fin dal 1993 esclusivamente da mike erkau e riconosciuto nel panorama alternativo attraverso il premio riscosso nel 2004 in occasione del media award. a seguito di una fortunata serie di remixes tratti dalle sue produzioni realizzati da istituzioni quali ab ovo, fractional, def, heimstatt yipotash e sunao inami, oltre ad almeno sette pubblicazioni in versione cd-r album e mp3 files, ecco giungere ufficialmente il full-lenght più atteso, "meanwhile" che già dall'estetica raffigurata nella sleeve comunica visivamente la sobria ricercatezza di un sound composito e proteiforme, interamente strumentale, costruito mediante sottili macchinazioni di field-recording, loops cerebrali ed ingegno tecnologico. la hymen records, label fondata da stefan alt nonchè succursale della prestigiosa ant zen, si occupa di licenziare questa release perfetta per ascolti meditativi oppure di raffinato sottofondo che rimandano a visionari universi circondati da arcobaleni cromati con tutte le sfumature del blu. dodici le tracce incorporate nell'album, tutte elettronicamente incantate, colte, che sanciscono l'equilibrio tra l'avveniristico suono ambient, elementi sparsi riconducibili all'idm e finissime alchimie synthetiche. "at the end of it all" costituisce l'opener: una plumbea, pacata eruzione di electro-sound acquoso e ritmato da effervescenti micropulsazioni che anticipano la successiva entrata di "future space junk", loopata vocalmente su drumming attenuato e scattante. "imperfectness" addiziona corpose rullate sequenziali alternate a più lineari tracciati ritmici e pads d'atmosfera, in anticipo sull'atelier sonico-avanguardistico predisposto da "burden of the past" e, più avanti, dal fosco quanto fascinoso dedalo elettronico appartenente a "ultima thule", traccia dallo spectrum percussivo ipnotico. una prolungata e buia introduzione di materia tastieristica si evolve "in crescendo" fino a collegarsi con l'elegante segmento ritmico di "planetarium", seguita dalle altrettanto oscure, dilatate manovre di laptop diffuse da "siberstreif", tessute attorno un suggestivo modulo di e-drum. la gocciolante sezione di programming udibile in "no need to be famous" si fonde ad un torpido nucleo ritmico orientando l'atteggiamento della traccia verso un'elettronica surreale, concedendo l'ingresso alla successiva "zeitblase" pianificata su una nervosa base pseudo-jungle/drum'n'bass. l'omonima "meanwhile" offre un coinvolgente campionario di note computerizzate disposte ad evocare un distensivo sogno metropolitano. contariamente al titolo, l'austero portamento electro-ambient di "serenity" crea una mescolanza di sensazioni inquiete sottolineate del lento e cadenzato incedere del prog-drumming. "waldmensch", traccia di chiusura, percorre rilassanti tragitti prettamente ambient vissuti da fugaci sottofondi in sintonia con i rumori della natura, impercettibili accordi di laptop e scricchiolante, rarefatta punteggiatura percussiva. opera intelligente, per nulla appesantita da cervellotici stratagemmi da laboratorio ma, al contrario, areata ed assieme contemplativa. e' questo lo stile empatico di mike erkau. possedere l'attitudine di donare espressività a particelle soniche senz'anima costituisce di fatto un dono artistico non facilmente riscontrabile. the_empath congiunge in questo album la sua comprovata sapienza di musicista avant-garde ad una mirabile capacità di dipingere idealmente con le proprie strumentazioni garbati acquarelli di armonie leggere come il vento, appositamente dedicate alle attuali e venture generazioni di sognatori.

connexion bizarre
five years is a long time to get an album together. sometimes the time taken is a good thing, with others, occasionally disappointing. this is not the case here. having already been aware of the_empath from the really quite excellent “miwak twelve” release from hymen, this release came as an interesting and varied surprise. this is time travel in music form. “meanwhile” wasn’t especially designed to flow from one track to another. it was designed to show how mike erkau (alias the_empath) had grown as an artist in five years, and it’s an interesting journey. it starts quite rhythmically, but soon slides into soothing idm fare. fans of early autechre and gridlock should find this release massively satisfying as it covers quite a bit of territory; from crunchy beats, to chilled-out soundscapes. starting with the really quite beautiful “at the heart of it all” (which was featured on the above mentioned “miwak twelve”) really does get the listener’s attention from the start; it’s a beautiful melody that swells with this sound that seems like raindrops, followed by guitars, glitches and beats that carry you off somewhere else, and the collected tracks do have this otherworldly quality to them, even if they have little else in common. “planetarium” is downright creepy with stretched sounds and fast, yet uneasy synth lines before any beat kicks in, “burden of the past” is more chunky and beat driven with what sounds like someone smashing chains around, and “waldmensch” bringing the release to an end with a soothing sound that has a vague similarity to some early ulrich schnauss. i think the only thing that could possibly let this release down is some of the track placements, as sometimes some tracks tend to jolt you out of a certain space in to another, which can be a little disruptive on headphones, but the music remains interesting. i say that each track has little in common with each other, but i think that is where the strength lies in this release. it shows that the_empath has a lot more going for his music, and there is a lot to hear for those who get in to it. this is a varied, interesting and worthwhile journey for any electronic music aficionado. (kate turgoose)

meanwhile is the_empath’s personal justification of subdued ambient bass. each textured melody spirals across shades of charcoal, and on the edges is a trudging body of work encompassing bass-laden effects, samples and an upbeat architecture, both warm and inviting. plastic rivets keep the melodious flows in check as the_empath stretches out and manifests a prowess of sound control. even with the bundles of electrons and raw bass lines, meanwhile exudes depth and a highly evolved sense of unison. each low-tumbling slice of future space junk is filled with an emotive trajectory and piercing electronic voice leaving meanwhile in a class of its own.

the_empath discography 10.2k10:
meanwhile. cd. hymen records ¥784. 2010
at the heart of it all. cd-r. noise rendition/subroom medialab nr005/sml-7. 2009
second earth remix project. digital release. subroom medialab sml-6. 2008
masters of deception. cd-r. subroom medialab sml-5. 2006
homunkulus. cd-r. subroom medialab sml-4. 2002
annunaki. cd-r. subroom medialab sml-3. 2001
stimulation. cd-r. subroom medialab sml-2. 2000
subroom message. cd-r. noise rendition/subroom medialab nr002/sml-1. 1999

the_empath webpages: