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Elting Lieb

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If it’s often said that the music of German duo MRI exemplifies the genre of MicroHouse (a reduced, glitchified form of House music), what’s not observed is how the duo pull the rubric of said genre in so many different directions. Over a period of almost four years, they’ve released a clutch of 12” singles and two albums, throughout which they’ve managed to concurrently reduce MicroHouse to its purest, most aesthetically rigorous form, and expand its brief to include the blasted ‘heroin house’ of the Basic Channel roster, melancholic pop, R&B, and the shivery textures and glimmering lights of disco.

The duo met at the tail-end of 1999 in Frankfurt. Stephan Lieb had recently relocated from Cologne and met Frank Elting (who had also shifted, but from Würzburg) through an advertisement in a newspaper. Both have interesting histories: Lieb’s musical epiphany involved a crappy phonograph and a copy of Chic’s “Le Freak.” Soon after, he discovered the ‘Neue Deutsche Welle’ (German post-punk) before finishing school, completing national service, and had a second epiphany about House and Techno, which he proclaims “outshined all I knew about sound structures.” Frank Elting’s history is similarly snaky: bass guitar, woodshedding with friends, before graduating to the local jazz circuit. On relocation to Frankfurt, Elting began an apprenticeship as a sound engineer, before hooking up with Lieb. The duo’s quartet of sonic configurations - MRI, Blake C., Kingsize XS and Elting_Lieb - may have all produced fascinating music (Blake C.’s Traveling Without Moving is a rare shot-in-the-arm for blissed-out, dreamscape ambient techno), but it’s the MRI branding that has made for the most consistently startling aesthetic maneuvers.

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