Michael Mayer must have tied himself in knots over this release. I think he was dreading ‘living up to’ his reputation, his fans and the legacy of ‘Immer’. Well, c’mon, wouldn’t you? The only thing more breathtaking than the ambition of calling a mix ‘Forever’ was the fact that there was something eternal in it – he pulled it off. Can something that is a sequel survive the comparison it seeks to draw?
The answer is a tortured, difficult no. I’ve racked my brains over this release, but only a frustrating fraction of how much Mayer must have in putting it together. The whole thing is overdetermined, and it suffers under the excessive weight of the history it draws over it.
The trajectory of the mix itself is unusual. Beginning with the pastoral ambience of Someone Else and Ian Simmond’s filmic ‘choo-choo train’ microhouse numbers, it slowly builds up steam, crossing the bridge into the club with Crowdpleaser & St Plomb’s ‘18 Years’ before setting the disco-ball a spinnin’ with Justus Koehnke’s ‘Advance’.
So far, so good – so, what’s next? Well, with a cooing chorus, a whoosh and a bouncy bassline, the mix blossoms into peaktime on the Todd Terje super space-disco dancefloor, too early and too oddly. The track is a massive risk that almost works, but also gives the first intimations of the M.Mayer Express veering off the rails. Mayer expends two tracks building to Terje’s climax, but there’s too much ‘smoke machine’ and not enough of that invisible disco heartbeat. We’re nowhere near ‘there’ yet – and yet suddenly we’re past it, with the choice of the Rice Twins’ ‘For Dan’, whose blue, dissipating feel is an unsatisfying mis-step in this context. It’s like Mayer’s already rolled over, and I’m still wondering when (if ever) it or I am gonna come.
After six minutes in the mix (long enough for M.M to enjoy that sigh and cigarette), he rolls back on, and we’re off again. By now the sun has set, and we’re sliding through icy, dark landscapes. In the context of the mix (or maybe in comparison to its surrounding selections) SCSI-9’s ‘Morskaya’ is the business. It’s brooding, and it kicks. But Mayer again blows his accumulated head of steam, letting it drift and chill with Jesse Somfay’s interesting sigh-trance clap-a-long ‘Bed of Mist’. By this stage, Mayer’s totally been set adrift on memory bliss, so when Sten’s mix of DK7 comes in, you’ll either be on cloud nine, or (like these ears) chiming in with the title of the track and wondering ‘Where’s the Fun’. I can’t help but feel that the lyrics here are prescient, as Mayer almost seems to be apologising: ‘You tried/ you tried/ there’s no-one/ inside/ don’t worry/ if they/ can’t feel you…’ It’s a nice track, and might have made a good closer to what would have been a conflicted, confused mix clouded by performance anxiety… But then there’s the appalling Supermayer remix of Geiger’s ‘Good Evening’ which nothing can redeem. Why is this included, other than the fact that CDs are 74 minutes long? It’s one of the most pompous, overblown pieces of Wagnerian microtrance I’ve heard in a good while. Superstinky.
I’ve tried, I’ve tried – maybe I needed to like this mix too much, after the effect Immer had on me, and I’ve bruised its petals by trying to clasp it too hard, then gripped it even tighter when I couldn’t feel it. Or maybe it’s simply a matter of spelling. If Mayer had called the mix ‘Ima’ after the Japanese for ‘now’, it all would have made more sense, especially when, next year, this all sounds very ‘last year’. But whether this is ‘Now’ or not, it’s certainly not ‘Always’, and it never will be. No way.