Image by Rene Passet
When German producer Bryan Müller, known by the moniker Skee Mask, released his sophomore effort Compro in 2018, it was widely praised as an immaculately designed body of work. That album was seen as a remarkable refinement of the aesthetic he had been crafting since his teenage years, an amalgamation of 90’s dance influences filtered by way of Müller’s incomparable style. The Munich based producer showcased a laudable skill in making countless, disparate sonic threads feel seamless and subsequently, revealed an aptitude towards understanding how to stir feelings on the dance floor.
His latest effort, Pool, debuted last week as a surprise release via Ilian Tape. Across 18 tracks, Pool sees Müller continue to explore the depths of his aesthetic influences, further pushing his mastery over breakbeat and ambient soundscapes. Largely more ambient leaning than Compro, Pool is a slow burner full of complexity and bold creative experimentation. The music is richly textured and alarmingly varied. The producer’s love affair with vintage techno continues on tracks such as 60681z and the dark, pulsating standout Breathing Method. There’s influences from house all over CZ3000 Dub, and the acid lounginess of Massive Attack is present on tracks like Ozone and Rio Dub. Elsewhere, Absence takes Müller’s penchant for sonic topography and runs with it over the course of 5 minutes. The album is sweepingly broad, and these varied influences collide on Testo BC Mashup, where a noise intro gives way to distorted drum & bass, segueing into ambience driven trip-hop then back again.
Müller’s topography takes us through an array of locations both programmed and natural, and the landscape he constructs in Pool is one of overwhelming breadth. The length of the album also contributes greatly to this air of grandeur, and often feels colossal. While Müller continues the preternatural sonic tapestry displayed on Compro, there is a sense that Pool is more cerebral in the way his references are sewn together. Repeated listening is not only necessary to support the weight of it all, but also an essential exercise in uncovering the opulence of what Müller has created. Nonetheless, the album is brilliantly designed in its structure and the placement of each track feels considered in a way that curates Pool’s various explorations. Pool is the work of an artist undeniably in his prime, relishing the possibilities of their craft. And while Müller’s indulgently bold experimentation may not always produce Compro’s immaculateness, what it does produce sees the artist pushing his own boundaries to thrilling new heights.
Skee Mask has not made Pools available on streaming services. The album is available digitally or on vinyl here. Listen below:
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