Usually, when I review albums they’re released in their thousand. Not today. When Mind Over Midi released Monolog on 12th November 2012, on the Glasgow-based Diametric label, only 200 copies of Monolog were released. This is the norm for Diametric. Their releases are limited to 300 copies of an album on CD or lovely vinyl. I’d call Diametric a boutique label, and I admire their philosophy. Diametric are certainly not “dedicated followers of fashion.” Instead, Diametric has a “love and passion for electronic music” and realize that electronic music is an “artform.” Like myself, Diametric state on their website that: “trends and hypes are not of interest.” To me, this is admirable. For too many labels, they look to latch onto musical trends and tastes, like a surfer would catch a wave. In doing so, these labels miss out on so many talented artists, whose music deserves to be heard by a wider audience. This is the case with Mind Over Midi, who I’ll tell you about, before telling you about Monolog.

Helge Tommervag, who is from Kristiansund, on Norway’s north eastern coast, has been immersed in electronic music since the early eighties. His career started as a member of the synth-pop group ToC, before launching a solo career with Mind Over Midi. Among Mind Over Midi’s early releases were Trancesurfer, which featured on a compilation released by Norwegian music magazine Rock Furore in 1994 and then Mindworks, on XS II, To the Ravezone a compilation of Norwegian techno released in 1995. After that, Helge has continued to develop Mind Over Midi’s unique sound. Ambient and minimalist are just two words that succinctly describe the music Mind Over Midi have continued to release.

Following these early releases, Mind Over Midi have released numerous singles, E.P.s and albums, between 1995 and 2012. This started with the Elektrical Activity E.P. 1, which was released on Beatservice Records. Later in 1995, came Elektrical Activity E.P. 2 and a year later, in 1996, Mind Over Midi released their debut album Elektrical Activity in 1996, on Beatservice Records. Their sophomore album was 1998s Ice Acoustik, which was also released on Beatservice Records. So too, were Mind Over Midi’s next three albums, 2001s Project 3, 2003s Statement and 2006s Monopoly. During that period, Mind Over Midi contributed tracks to compilations aplenty, including the Warners’ 1996 compilation AbStract Tracks, Beatservice Recordings’ Artic Circles’ compilations and Water Music Records’ 2002 compilation Excursions. Then there are Mind Over Midi’s remixes, which has seen them remix tracks by Motion Control, Lorenzo and Gork. By the time Mind Over Midi released their next album, it was for a new label.

2009s Habitat was Mind Over Midi’s followup to Monopoly, released on the Silent Season label. During the next three years, Mind Over Midi averaged an album a year. 2010 was their first digital only album, released unsurprisingly in 2010, on Berserk Fabrik. With a new decade dawning, Mind Over Midi’s next release would be for Glasgow-based label Diametric.

Mind Over Midi’s debut album for Diametric was Components, released in 2011. In keeping with Diametric’s philosophy, Components was released in limited numbers. So too is Monolog, Mind Over Midi’s ninth album, released on 12th November 2012. It features thirteen minimalist, ambient soundscapes which are pensive, moody, reflective and introspective. This is music for the mind, music which will change and shame your mood and emotions, as you’ll realize, when I tell you about the highlights of Monolog.

Enable opens Monolog, with a moody, broody, melodramatic sound. Soon the momentum builds. A wave of momentous, multilayered music grows. It’s unleashed, meandering and wandering. White noise joins washes of synths. Together, they drone, as if warning you that this wave of pensive, powerful music is about to reveal its hidden depths and secrets. Having grown, toying and teasing you all the way, it eventually, and is if relieved and spent, reaches a crescendo.

Interface sees Monolog’s experimental, introspective sound continue. There’s an understated, industrial sound to the track. Spacey, dubby drums, washes of eerie synths and unmistakable sound of worn vinyl combine. Synths meander, squeaking and beeping, the buzzing above and around you. It’s as if they’re encircling you, surrounding you. Squeaks and beeps join crackles and clicks as this eerie, haunting soundscape reveals its otherworldly sound.

Decoder is best described as a wave of dramatic, moody and menacing music. The darkness descends, threatening to overpower you. As Decoder unfolds, your taken into another world. Darkness doesn’t surround you. iInstead, it takes you on a journey. It’s slow, inching ever-closer to the final destination, one you almost dread. Like Enable, this wave of music builds and grows. Industrial strength synths take charge, producing a spine-tingling, roller-coaster journey, inducing fears and phobias. Then once eventually the journey is over, you breath easily, forgetting the  tension and suspense. Instead, you realize just how powerful, effective and emotive Mind Over Midi’s music is.

Straight away, Divider takes on space-age, lo-fi sound. It’s not unlike being fired into space, orbiting the earth in a spaceship designed by Mind Over Midi. Washes of synths, white noise and sound effects combine with delay, creating a multi-textured sound that spirals round and round. Clicks and crackles add to the lo-fi, ambient sound, that takes on warmth, that surrounds and embraces you. What never changes, is the sense of being taken on a journey, one deep into another world.

Clicks, crackles and introspective synths combine as Remote, takes on an analog sound. These clicks and crackles surround the washes of synths, which unfold, taking you on a meandering, moody and melancholy journey. Although melancholy and wistful, it’s pleasing, pleasant and memorable. Circuitry then paints a dark, bleak landscape. Mind Over Midi’s trademark washes of synths combine with slow, spacey and pulsating drums. As they provide the track’s pulse, haunting, waves of moody, melodramatic and often elegant, crystalline synth add a quite beautiful, mood-changing counterpoint. 

Sensor gallops slowly and broodily, gradually stretching, exploring its elegiac, plaintive depths. It drones, on a voyage of discovery, meandering moodily, but at the same time, melancholy textures.

Source crackles, clicks and drones, riding waves and washes of synths. They grow in drama and depth, their eerie, yet strangely warm sound reverberating into the middle-distance. Lo-fi, ambient and minimalist the music is, but it’s quite definitely captivating and compelling as it reveals its subtleties and secrets. Modus follows on from Source, as it reveals surprises and subtleties aplenty. Clicks, crackles and squeaks escape from the arrangement, as it decides to reveal its sonic surprises. They’re like a hostage, struggling to escape its captors. As they eventually emerge from the track’s hidden depths, their addition are welcomed them with open ears.

Counter seems determined to make its presence felt. Its menacing sound grows in dramatic waves. Again there’s a space-age sound, as if bounding weightlessly through space. It’s moody and broody, embracing you. Strangely, you miss it once it’s gone. Replacing it is the equally saturnine Connector, which bubbles and squeaks, splashes of water and waves of synths combining. Layers and textures unfold, taking on an organic sound, as if Neptune is rising from the depths of Mind Over Midi’s music.

Interrupt revisits the sound of earlier tracks, the droning, buzzing sound reminiscent of an old biplane encircling you. It gets closer, taking you on a two-minute, lo-fi, ambient journey, where minimalistic beeps and squeaks keep you company.

Monolog closes with Disable where the eerie, menacing sound seems to go into overdrive. From the get-go this soundscape makes its presence felt. Waves of music crash like waves. Their elegance are contrasted by the moody, menacing sound that sits above it. The after just three minutes, this compelling combination of contrasts comes to a conclusion, one that’s pensive, reflective and introspective.

Mind Over Midi’s ninth album Monolog sees Helge Tommervag further refine his trademark brand of ambient, minimalist music. He’s been practicing, perfecting and refining this sound for nearly thirty-years. So it’s no wonder that by Mind Over Midi’s ninth album Monolog, that he’s one of the most practiced, practitioners of the artform of ambient music. Monolog features thirteen tracks of lo-fi ambient music, which are guaranteed to change your mood and make you think. Moody, broody and pensive, plus dramatic, melodramatic, melancholy and beautiful are just some of the words that describe Monolog. It’s an album that variously, washes over you, embraces you, and forces you to think, as it paints pictures in your mind’s eye. Monolog is best described as the soundtrack to a film that’s yet to be made. Instead, you supply the pictures, while Mind Over Midi supply the music. In many ways, Mind Over Midi couldn’t have timed the release of Monolog better. 

Given the resurgence in popularity in ambient music, Monolog has been released with perfect timing. Ambient music is back, back in a big way. After falling out of flavor for several years, there’s been a resurgence in interest, and in releases of ambient music. So, for anyone looking for some laid-back, late-night music, then Mind Over Midi’s Monolog is perfect. It’s a collaboration between two countries, Scotland and Norway, which has resulted in Mind Over Music releasing an ambient Magnus Opus, Monolog. It was recently released by Diametric, and quite simply, is one of the best ambient releases of 2012. Indeed, Monolog sees Mind Over Midi joining the ranks of European ambient royalty, where they’re surely to stay. Standout Tracks: Decoder, Divider, Sensor and Connector.


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