Peder Mannerfelt is an artist who has been working in the liminal spaces of electronic music for around a decade, beginning with early releases under the alias The Subliminal Kid. In the ensuing time he has gone on to lend his chops behind the scenes on albums for Fever Ray, Blonde Redhead and Glasser, and released a trio of diverse and cinematic albums in production duo Roll The Dice. However, it’s his recent work under his given name that has been most exciting, appearing in a string of freewheeling EPs and albums for labels like Digitalis, Avian and Ultimate Hits.
Mannerfelt also runs the straightforwardly-titled label Peder Mannerfelt Produktion, an imprint that has provided an early platform for Truants favourites Klara Lewis and Machine Woman, and will soon be releasing the (fantastic) debut single from Sissel Wincent. It’s this label that houses his most daring and experimental work, and his latest album Controlling Body is no exception. Across nine tracks Mannerfelt distorts dance music tropes into potent new forms, helped along the way by the ethereal presence of Glasser, who contributes vocals in varying forms of abstraction across the album. Many words could be spent dissecting the intellectual qualities of the record, but ultimately the real strength of the record is its physicality: Mannerfelt doesn’t tag all his releases with “power ambient” for nothing. It’s this weight and precision that imbues the title “Controlling Body” with real meaning.
On Truancy Volume 148 he reconstructs the aesthetic of Controlling Body with long blends of loop techno that are deftly mixed with heady and emotive music from far beyond the dance floor. Given our love of his work, as well as his adventurous DJing style, it was a no brainer to get him on board. It’s certainly paid off: we think it’s one of the most distinctive and creative techno mixes we’ve heard all year.
We caught up with Peder to discuss the new album, his approach to music and the burning question that’s on everybody’s mind: what is power ambient?
Hi Peder, could you introduce yourself for the uninitiated? “My name is Peder Mannerfelt and I’m an electronic musician and producer from Sweden”
To my mind Controlling Body is the most cohesive release to appear under your own name: one aspect of that is Glasser’s appearances throughout the album. Can you tell us how this collaboration came to be? “I did some work on Cameron/Glasser’s debut album Ring a few years ago and also tour a little bit as a part of her band, so the idea of collaborating has been there for a long time. Basically I send her a text document with different novels and arrows going up and down for her to use as a score . She also recorded a bunch of separate words. I then used these recordings as a sample bank with sounds that I could incorporate when I was writing and recording the tracks.”
You use vocals in an interesting way throughout your work, often picking out a single word or phrase and twisting and repeating it throughout a track. Is your aim to communicate something linguisitic, or something else entirely? “Well it’s a bit of both, sometime I have a specific purpose with a word and try to communicate that with the whole song and sometimes I treat in a more textural way. Kind of putting it in the same box and with the same priorities as any other sound in the track.”
“Controlling Body” is a striking title: can you expand on how it relates to the music on the album? “The album is based on a loose concept about control. It’s a subject I got into after having kids. The more I started to think it about it I felt that everything is about control is some form. Either taking or giving up control or accepting that or fighting against it. And the title as such is meant to be pretty ambiguous. I’m not presenting a formulated thesis, it’s more of a bunch of questions.”
You released this album on Peder Mannerfelt Produktion, a label you run that originally only housed your own material but has since given early outings to artists like Klara Lewis, Machine Woman and Sissel Wincent: what’s the game plan with the label now? And what was the thinking behind expanding to other artists? “I’ve never really had a plan with the label, it’s grown kind of naturally based on me finding new stuff that I get excited about and want to help out and support in some form. The only thing planned right now after Sissel’s EP is an album by my friend Simon Haydo that hopefully will be out in the fall.”
Your music has a lot in common sonically with contemporary dance music, and is quite danceable in places. In others it’s much more abstract and is composed in time signatures that are out of the comfort zone of most dancers. Given that your work lives in this liminal zone, where do you most feel comfortable presenting your music? “Right now I feel most comfortable if people don’t expect to dance, because then they can get in to the music on a deeper level and hopefully get to the same place in the end as they would be on a dance floor. It just takes a little longer for everything to reveal itself and take form. If I’m playing live to a dance floor I’m a bit stressed out about keeping the flow running, I kind of enjoying breaking it up and spacing out for a bit but it’s not always what works in a club setting. I prefer to DJ in that context as I put a bit less pressure on myself and with that I enjoy myself in another way.”
We love the mix you’ve made for us, what can you tell us about it? “Basically just tracks I’m feeling at the moment and what I would play out in DJ set.”
What’s particularly striking on the mix is the extent to which you use the tracks as raw material to build new music – do you have any thoughts on the possibilities of composition through DJing? “Yeah that’s a very good point and pretty much what I try to do. I stopped using any FX or massive filtering when I DJ, instead I’m using tracks that are more experimental to fill out the gaps, and in that way I guess it almost takes on a life of its own.”
What, in your opinion, is “power ambient”? “What I try to do and what got labelled as Power Ambient is techno with a 1/4 kick instead of a 4/4.”
1. Burundi: Musiques Traditionnelles – Groupes de tambours royaux avec appels de trompes
2. Caterina Barbieri – Scratches on the Readable Surface
3. Shards – Untitled
4. Citizen Boy – Uhuru
5. Klara Lewis – Want
6. Kowton – Loops 1
7. Jeff Mills – Circus (Reworked)
8. Jimmy Edgar – I Wanna Be Your Std
9. Thomas Bangalter – What To Do
10. Broken English Club – Our History In Bones
11. Basic Soul Unit – Landlocked
12. MMM – Re-tics
13. Paul Jebanasam – eidolons beginning p = (m2A 2 am to (rho-z)-y ∂t+(ρ see to wait dz/dt = it xy that I -beta* do not z countless
14. HATE – Human Resources
15. Bénin: Rythmes Et Chants Pour Les Vodun – Procession and Horns
16. Stomach Basher – Wowy Zowy
17. Cerrone -Supernature
18. Arrington De Dionyso – Ten Thousand Year Vision
19. Young Tiger – African Dream
20. Gregg Kowalsky – IX
21. Dale Cornish – Ulex Pattern 5
22. COIL – Elph vs Co1l – Ended
Peder Mannerfelt will be performing at Cafe Oto, London in August. More information and tickets here.