Michael Mayer's second album, Mantasy, is "a tribute to history's great explorers, to characters obsessed with an idea, to totally wrong conceptions of the world." It's a bold concept that Mayer attempts to embody by filtering an eccentric sprawl of ideas through a diverse array of instrumentation and electronic-music stylings. Occasionally, things are knitted together to strike gold, as they are on playful dancefloor lament "Good Times." However, more often than not, the tracks become shrouded in egotism and over-production and amount to little more than posturing.
Eight years removed from his debut full-length, Touch, Mayer seems to have worked and reworked his sophisticated ideas for Mantasy into submission. "Roses" is a great example of this. The track's hypnotic vocal line, zig-zagging synths, and stabbing baseline are interesting ingredients, but once meshed together, they lack charm and effervescence. Other tracks are simply forgettable. The glockenspiel-crowned techno of "Rudi Is a Punk," the sci-fi squelch of "Voight Kampf," and the ambient interlude of "Baumhaus" all pass without quickening pulses or moving feet.
Whilst some tracks lack charisma, others grate. After being lulled into a false sense of security by the subtle and alluring ambience of the openening "Sully," "Lamusetwa" shatters this elegant veneer with its sheer gaudiness; the song's reverb-laden guitar line, set against chugging horns, cloys rather than entertains. Penultimate track "Neue Furche" is similarly trying, as it's essentially a rigid composition of tired samples and ugly, distorted synths.
Sandwiched between this filler is one of the LP's few saving graces. The driving Italo disco of "Mantasy" is focused and enchanting, its fizzy, layered synths propelling the listener towards the cosmos. Through his status as one of the heads of Kompakt Records, itself one the best respected electronic music labels in the world, not to mention his legendary sets and sharp remixes, there is an undeniable sense of expectation weighing on Mayer's shoulders. Whilst he must be commended for his ambition, Mantasy is a patchy affair containing the good, the bad, and the downright ugly.