The last year has been an eventful one for Anja Schneider. Her label Mobilee cruised into its third year with a string of records that regularly shot to the top of the charts-and the front of the crates-of the world's best DJs.
As "minimal" gave way to a warmer, suppler sound, mobilee was at the forefront of the shift, with a sound at once dark and sensual, moody and uplifting. Touring ceaselessly, Anja traveled the globe, bringing the mobilee vibe to clubbers around the world; soaking up inspiration for new music everywhere she set down. Now she invites us to travel with her to an unfamiliar setting Beyond the Valley.
"It's the place where your parents told you not to go play as a child", says Anja. "Why? Because anything could happen. It's dangerous and anarchic. All the creatures that have been chased out of the village have gone there to hide." It sounds not unlike what we modern, city-dwelling mortals know as nightlife, a scene we recreate every weekend, with subwoofers instead of tunneling burrows, and waving arms instead of the branches of spirit trees. That's just the sort of environment where Anja and her fellow revelers thrive.
Anja brings that pagan spirit to life in 10 inky, supple cuts. The lead single 'Mole' (to appear on 12" backed with a remix from Pan-Pot) sets the tone with tribal drums and snaky reverb trails. Guiros croak like frogs, and flashes of melody dart away like salamanders. Just as our parents also told us never to turn our back on the ocean, Beyond the Valley proceeds with caution, always respectful of the strangeness before it: 'Get Away' tiptoes into the shadows in the way that a good DJ teases her audience over to the other side.. But, there's plenty of abandon here as well: check 'Little Red Riding Hood', with its urgent, cresting build-ups, or the starry-eyed submission of 'Belize', which stakes out a jungle clearing where dancers revel until dawn. The record's close, the bobbing 'Fish at Night', wraps up the album with a new musical direction for Anja, where dubby half-stepping meets bubbling chords in the weightlessness of the deep.
The album's title track represents its spiritual heart, where suave timbres temper the unremitting tension, and electronic frequencies fuse with the music of the human voice. Creeping forward on animal paws, you'd have to call it "jungle music" if the name weren't already taken. What you make of it-a sophisticated form of primitivism, or an ascendance of the animal inside all of us-is up to you. That nether world is the heart of Beyond the Valley. And thanks to Anja, she's not only led us there by the hand, but she's brought back a piece of that other world to our own.
4. Beyond The Valley
8. Get Away
9. Little Red Riding Hood
10. Fish At Night
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March 4, 2008 at 3:46 PM CET