It’s been twelve years since Peter Rehberg’s last full length album under the Pita alias. He’s since been busy running the Editions Mego label and working on soundtracks for the French artist and choreographer Gisèle Vienne – a collaboration that yielded both the eMego album Work For GV 2004-2008 (released under Rehberg’s own name), and a series of albums and shows by KTL, Rehberg’s art-house doom duo with Sunn O)))’s Stephen O’Malley.
Pita made a surprise return to live performance in 2015. And now there’s Get In, a tardy new addition to the ‘Get’ series. Having had us Get Out in 1999, Get Down in 2002 and Get Off in 2004, Pita’s now urging us to Get In again. And you’re well advised to listen up.
The third, untitled track on Get Out was widely hailed as a classic in the then still box-fresh sub-genre of electronica that Rehberg did so much to define, both through his music ( in particular with the General Magic & Pita and Rehberg & Bauer duos) and as founder of Mego, later Editions Mego.
I’m not sure there’s anything to rival ‘Untitled 3’ on Get In (Editions Mego), and the window for groundbreaking in the genre has long since closed, but Get In is vital nonetheless.
Jim O’Rourke, in his capacity as a judge in the 1999 Prix Ars Electronica for Computer Music awards, described Rehberg’s music as “computer music (with) a punk aesthetic“, but what we have here is a work of real maturity, a showcase of Rehberg’s mastery of the idiom, and a reboot of core practice much more convincing than Aphex Twin’s overhyped Syro.
Get In was recorded in Rehberg’s Vienna studio between March 2015 and January 2016. A couple of its seven titles seem to suggest pertinent dates (“20150609 I”), but most track names are classic electronica gibberish (“Mfbk”). I doubt that “Aahn” is a dedication to American nurses, but you never know.
“Fvo”, the brief and modest opening cut, begins as a daisy chain of Fenneszian snippets that resolve into airy, quasi-vocal ambient drone and surge. “20150609 I” is equally brief, but glitchy, loud, and rudely disruptive.
The following tracks are longer. “Aahn” is a simmer of electronic motes cut through by a mecano-rhythmic pulse of the sort Ryoji Ikeda keeps airlock-clean and minimal; here it’s well greased and grit-coated, ripple effects creating distortions in a cocooning aura of purer electronic sound. The effect is enveloping, multi-dimensional. “Line Angel” is a contrasting flux of shimmering tintinabulation rinsed free of all grime. Elements of the mix remind me of the spangled gloaming of Seefeel’s Succour.
Notwithstanding the variety so far, the squelchy acid rhythm of “S200729” is a real surprise. The sudden irruption of distortion comes just when you start to wonder whether Rehberg’s going to do anything with it. The play out is pure acid Rephlex, with a hint of Squarepusher’s old rhythmic overdrive, at least until Rehberg renders it muzzy and obscure, setting the scene for “9U2016” – a discomfiting blend of compellingly nebulous abstraction and percussive, disruptive distortion.
The longest cut, “Mfbk” requires its ten minutes to expand ambient drift into harmonised organ and low string tones, and for a sense of pulse to emerge from repeat patterns of slow-motion rhythm. And it sounds just gorgeous, with acoustic depth and vibrancy, and becomes almost hymnal at the end.
There’s enough that’s familiar here to make the album a shoo-in for longstanding fans. It naturally features artwork by Mego’s go-to designer Tina Frank. But it doesn’t entirely conform to expectation. Electronic music matured long since Pita set the template for glitch minimalism, back in ’96, with Seven Tons For Free. Rehberg’s obviously been attentive to it all, but own music remains distinctive and cliche-free. The production is richer, warmer, more expansive and accommodating than before, but Pita’s music has lost none of its unsettling edge and intensity.
Buy Get In direct from Editions Mego.