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Dieter Müh - Mutus Liber

Since 2009 Dieter Müh has been a solo project, but this release comes from a time when Dieter Müh still featured Dave Uden alongside the sole remaining member Steve Cammack. Dieter Müh formed in 1993 but despite numerous releases on labels such as Tesco, Functional, Harbinger Sounds, EE Tapes... they still remain enigmatic and somewhat mysterious. Dieter Müh were rooted in a post-industrial sound, with captivating layers of electronics, manipulations and field recordings. There was always an interest in the occult, and it is here in the title of Mutus Liber referencing an ancient alchemical text. Their interest in occultism and esoterica was made more explicit when they performed live and recorded with writer Lon Millo DuQuette but that was years later and just before Dave Uden left to follow other pursuits, leaving Steve Cammack to continue alone as Dieter Müh.

After seeing them live Colin Potter encouraged the duo, producing their debut studio album Black Square but Mutus Liber predated that release, as a cassette given away to those who had showed an interest in their music. Mutus Liber was hastily assembled from recordings made at their home studio during 1993 and 1994, along with a live excerpt from their second performance. Its fast construction belies a wealth of great compositions, and EE Tapes should be commended for rescuing this from the vaults.

The alluring 'Empty Mirror' glistens with haunting ambient noise drone edging onwards with microtones and wavering synth effects until it swirls with a harsher post-industrial edge. 'Ibruksin' sinks deeper into post-industrialism with electronics seeping over creaking reverberations and what could be time stretched gong chimes. Like much of Dieter Müh's output it is pensive and spacious and towards the final third of the track it unleashes a careering airy and rippling wash. The whole track is submerged in a distinct hiss, perhaps the result of a degraded recording but it only adds to the atmosphere here.

The ritual aspect of the group really comes to the fore on a couple of tracks. The sustained gong like hum of 'Decoding The Ritual Of Frequency' is layered against a harsher drone creating a reverberating, shimmering effect. You can almost detect a sense of rhythm in the languid chatter but the general feeling is of unease as noisier elements surface, whirring, grating and heaving amidst the ritualised atmosphere.

The cyclical gong like shimmer continues on 'Earblind' - which shares its title with a solo Dave Uden track on Dieter Müh's 'Akal' single - gives way to a period of atmospheric ambient churn. Harsher elements interrupt, buzzing, heaving and shuddering, its industrial vibrations bringing a more menacing and threatening aspect to the subdued electronics and drones. Much more subtle and perhaps my favourite track on Mutus Liber is 'Elk Hunting' with its reverberating layers of nocturnal electronics punctuated by the call of a high pitched howl. Enveloping in layers of spacious, shimmering vibrations it just radiates a dark beauty.

'Introjection' provides a rare glimpse of the early live sound of Dieter Müh with their original trio formation, additionally featuring tape manipulations from Tim Bayes - who would relocate to Australia and continue to record as Zilverhill and Schuster. Here brooding ambience is formed from enveloping synths and insect chatter, as distant voices from street scenes emanate from tapes, in this aching, noise infused ritualised working excerpted from a 1994 gig headlined by Ramleh and organised by Steve Underwood of Harbinger Sounds and later manager of Sleaford Mods.

Mutus Liber is a strong entry into the post-industrial world, looking backwards to early industrial music and forwards to what would become industrial ambient. Even though strains of these early studio tracks worked their way into the likes of 'Eurasienstab', 'MUZhVZ' and 'Writhe', surprisingly none of these tracks appeared on their debut studio album Black Square, released on their own Carnifex Recordings label. But nearly a quarter of a century later this remains a worthwhile album of drone based experimental industrial, and certainly deserving of being heard by more than the handful of people who received a copy of the cassette way back in 1995. As a footnote, it's worth pointing out at around this point Dieter Müh forged a relationship with the Finnish Sähkö label, whose founder Tommi Grönlund used 'Decoding The Ritual Of Frequency' in an installation piece. Mutus Liber is released on CD in an edition of 200 copies. For more information go to EE Tapes