How does a talented, unsigned musician from Minnesota get a demo heard by some of the biggest IDM (intelligent dance music) labels in Europe? Even with the recent explosion of internet-based music, the chances seem slim. Not so, if you consider the recent, MAS Confusion, produced from two large boxes of demos by two established European IDM artists (Funkstörung and Funckarma) and two major labels (!K7 & MAS). The result is a stunning album made up of mostly unsigned, unknown artists (including two from Minnesota).

The idea behind MAS Confusion, released jointly by the labels !K7 and MAS (Musik Aus Strom), emerged when Don and Roel Funcken (the two brothers from Funckarma) were visiting the MAS offices and encountered two large boxes of demos sent to the label over the past few years. When asked what he planned to do with them, MAS co-founder Michael Fakesch replied that he would like to put together a "future talent compilation" (MAS had been releasing albums sporadically since 1998 when their !K7 project Funkstörung took off). Don offered to help by selecting tracks from the demos and getting friends to write additional tracks. Fakesch and MAS cofounder Chris De Luca then made the final selection, distilling it down to the twelve tracks that make up MAS Confusion, eleven of which have never been released.

Fans of MAS and/or IDM electronica are in for a bit of a surprise when they encounter the melodic and melancholic nostalgia of the compilation, aptly described by the Mr. Projectile track, Less math, more music. While the songs go from entirely slow and contemplative, like the great opening track by Metamatics, to slightly edgier, crunchier tracks like that by Autophonic, they are united by meandering melodies punctuated by carefully constructed (and slightly abrasive) beats. This clearly articulated sonic unity is so pervasive that songs seem to draw from the mood of the previous track, as if they were written with the knowledge of what the following track would sound like. The resulting subtlety contributes to the album’s flow, coaxing the listener’s full attention and making it a truly first-rate compilation.

So keep writing. Keep sending those demos. Because you never know when you might make it on a great European IDM compilation...even if you’re from Minnesota.

by Alexander Tochilovsky