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Vinyl and Digital

1. lifted
2. stuck here
3. ravine
4. a black bubble
5. western coma
6. the train
7. shifted mind
8. ripped to peaces
9. lifted 2nd take

IT TOOK TOO LONG1. shallow tide / then came the dotes
2. hubble bubble
3. it took too long (part2)

1. crew missing
2. synapsis pt 1
3. incantus
4. junk a lektra
5. sans lucia
6. synapsis pt 2





on "koma":

textura 01/2015:
Mini Pops Junior: Koma Blankrecords 
It might seem a bit odd that Mini Pops Junior members Jan Hupe (tenor sax, flute, melodica, autoharp, kalimba) and Tobias Vethake (electric guitar, cello, drums, synthesizer, live looping, field recording) elected to title their third studio album Koma, given the associations coma has with unconsciousness and stimulus-related unresponsiveness. The move might be explained by the fact that a jazz-drone dimension is part of Mini Pops Junior's sound, as well as by an acknowledgement (mentioned within the press release) that the project's sound could justifiably invite comparison to the slo-core noir-jazz of Bohren & der Club of Gore. In Hupe's and Vethake's minds, Mini Pops Junior's music constitutes an improv-rooted blend of jazz, drone, krautrock, ambient, and dubstep.
The duo chose an abandoned Catalan lighthouse at the eastern edge of the Iberian Peninsula as a recording setting for the album, though two pieces (“Ravine,” “Shifted Mind”) were captured live in a sixty-metre tunnel under a go-kart track in the Berlin district Neukölln. Issued on Vethake's own Blank Records, the forty-four-minute release is available in multiple formats, including a striking lemon-yellow twelve-inch pressing.
Things begin on a restrained ambient-styled note in “Lifted” when Hupe's saxophone murmurs against a stark backdrop of nocturnal dronescaping. “A Black Bubble” paints an even darker picture in the way it surrounds its sax musings with a slow-building dub-like mass of synthesizer effects, guitar shards, and convulsive rhythms. The energy level picks up during “Stuck Here,” a loose, improv-styled jam characterized by a shape-shifting yet still relaxed flow of kalimba plucks, electric guitar flickers, synth accents, and sax shadings, and “The Train,” a brief yet nevertheless adventurous jazz-funk jam.
Certainly the cavernous quality of the tunnel setting does figure into the ambient-drone design of “Ravine” and “Shifted Mind” and their creeping cello-guitar-flute atmospherics, while “Ripped to Peaces” [sic] smolders with a measured degree of threat without erupting into out-of-control cacophony. Not surprisingly, the album's most dialed-down cut is “Western Coma,” a slow-burning meditation that would almost seem pastoral if it didn't give off a late-night club vibe. It's a track representative of Koma, whose nine, intimate set-pieces are typically low-key invitations to immersion that require an attentive ear for their subtleties to be appreciated. 

on "the lost weekend":

Sie lecken sich hinterher die Pfoten wie der Hund in Adas Nacht. “Backlight” lautet der Titel einer Atmo, in der sich diese Szene ereignen könnte. Seit nunmehr zehn Jahren spielen Gitarrist Tobias Vethake und Saxofonist Jan Hupe gemeinsam als Mini Pops Junior. Ihr neues Album “The Lost Weekend” (Blank Records) zerfurcht die Überbleibsel von Post-Dubstep mit Free Jazz-Fragmenten und bösen Unbanalitäten. Höre mit Schmerzen, das lohnt sich eben mitunter. “Backlight” mit seinen Schummrigkeiten ist unter diesen Tracks wohl so etwas wie der Pop-Hit. 
(SPEX online / Christoph Braun)

Wer im Internet nach Mini Pops Junior forscht, findet einen klobigen kleinen Kasten: ein früher Vertreter der Drum Machine mit voreingestellten Rhythmen wie Polka oder Mambo. Das antike Teil ist für Tobias Vethake und Jan Hupe einerseits Namensgeber ihres Duos; zudem markiert es den Ursprung ihrer Zusammenarbeit vor rund zehn Jahren. Damals schlossen sich die studierten Musiker aus Gütersloh und Hannover mit ungewöhnlicher Besetzung zusammen: im Zentrum Vethakes E-Gitarre und Hupes Saxofon, dazu Computer – und eben der stoisch klackende Rhythmus-Apparat. "Crew Missing", das selbst produzierte Debütalbum der Wahlberliner, erinnerte 2008 an geheimnisvolle Klangmalereien mit ungewohntem Mischungsverhältnis aus Clicks, Beats und langsam verlaufenden Instrumentals. Gitarre und Saxofon hielten sich beiläufig im Hintergrundeines hallenden Schichtwerks aus der Loop-Station. Mit "The Lost Weekend" folgt, zahlreiche Nebenprojekte und Theaterkompositionen später, die Fortsetzung. Cello, Flöte und Melodika mischen sich ins Klangspektrum; die Hauptrollen gehören weiterhin den Stamminstrumenten, die eigenwillig gegen den Strich des geläufigen Rock- oder Jazzbandkontexts gebürstet werden. "Backlight" etwa erinnert mit schleifenden und schnaufenden Sounds an einen skurril belebten Maschinenpark; im Titelstück ziehen Gitarrenklänge kometenhafte Schweife nach sich, das Saxofon tönt meist tief und ruhig am Boden. Eine Erzählerstimme ist bei diesen elegant verschatteten Stücken gar nicht mehr nötig. (TIP Berlin / Ulrike Rechel)

on "crew missing":

Along with accordion, saxophone is probably one of the most misunderstood instruments, especially when it comes to its use in modern music. Part of the blame lies on the shoulders of the likes of Kenny G, but then there's also bands like Morphine and Bohren & Der Club of Gore who are/were fighting to change the perception that saxophone doesn't have a place in modern music. Mini Pops Junior is another entry in this field. 

What they play is a combination of Mille Plateaux / glitch / clicks'n'cuts school with a bit of a cinematic / eerie work similar to that of their countrymen Bohren & Der Club of Gore. There's a bit more of an improvisational feel to their work than to that of B&DCoG, but both bands do share they love for atmosphere, most certainly. 

The key difference between what MPJ are doing and what B&DCoG are doing lies in the fact that saxophone never overshadows over instruments. Most of the time it just hovers in the background, while the rest of instruments are happily bleeping and blooping along. 

There are countless ways in which saxophone sounds are processed on this record - there's a lite-fm jazz / Kenny G vibe of a title track, looped/fragmented sounds of "Junk A Lektra" and a soft moaning heard in the closing track "Synapsis Pt. 2". Aside from saxophone, the band also tinkers with piano ("Synapsis Pt.1"), clipped beats ("Incantus") and weird electronic sounds ("Synapsis Pt. 2"). 

While "Crew Missing" falls flat sometimes (as in the first minutes of an opening track), there are times when it all comes together beautifully. Even with all its faults and flaws, its still a bold move to try and combine very different genres of music and for that the band should be commended. 

(Ilya Sitnikov / I Heart Noise / ihrtn.com)


"...it’s two fellas from berlin improvising and overdubbing till their smoke-stained german hearts are content. imagine a futuro-james ellroy.(...)

how do they do it? overdubbing a series of bohren and der club of gore-esque improvs atop atop atop one another. sounds like some elseworld version of bernard herrmann at times, where they’ve dug up his corpse, attached him to some turntables playing the taxi driver score and fed electricity through it.

it’s all very scratchy and late-night creepy. a real feeling of abandonment, of the horror of urban sprawl. all very 3am berlin, barely warmed with jagermeister and the skeletal rattle of the u-bahn acting as post-club metronome to ringing ears as you traipse through empty snow streets with only graffiti to semiotically, metaphysically and fearfully guide you.
with sampled sneezing. y’know.

hands down the best shit i’ve listened to this weekend.
zum flughafen bitte!"

(marxbeard, 2010)






photo: Thomas Neukum

photo: Thomas Neukum

photo: Rimma Starodubzeva