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Born at the intersection of techno and experimental music in Vienna, Austria, and evolving far beyond any classification, Editions Mego is an independent record label that champions variety. Founded in 1994 by Peter Rehberg together with Ramon Bauer and Andi Pieper, initially under the name Mego, Peter restarted the label in 2005, now called Editions Mego, and developed it into the much acclaimed outfit for what is known today. Peter passed away in 2021 and his legacy shines brilliantly through his label’s monumentally vast catalogue, with the final releases he had planned due to be released throughout 2022.

The meetings of Peter Rehberg and fellow musicians and collaborators sowed the seeds of Mego. In those times in the early 1990s, Bauer and Pieper wanted to move away from the overshadowing presence of techno back then in hopes of something more experimental, a desire Rehberg shared:

“I used to work in a record store at the time and I remember a lot of the techno distributors would send in faxes of all the new records and the description of the record was always just one of five words. “Techno house,” “pumping tracks.” It was always a very minimised vocabulary of how to describe music. Everything in this little box.”

“One of the things I always wanted to do when we started this back in the mid-90s,” Rehberg once said, “was that it wouldn’t become a genre-based label.” Rehberg rejected genre altogether, opting to describe his work instead as a coexistence of noise and harmony, dissonance and resonance, intimidation and beauty. This view became the defining thread of Mego: fearless exploration, experimentation, and emotional expression from artists who refuse to be boxed in.

To coincide with our Label Spotlight we are offering a free Editions Mego compilation CD with all physical orders excluding merchandise (whilst stocks last) featuring tracks by Russell Haswell, Mark Fell, Fennesz and more exclusive to this release (eMEGO170, '20130511 De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea').

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General Magic (Bauer, Pieper) and Peter Rehberg aka Pita released Fridge Trax in May 1995. The group placed microphones inside fridges, using their “unusual microscopic sound world” as a science lab for sonic experimentation that resulted in varying tracks of rhythmic, glitching and droning electronic sounds that can't be encompassed by one concise word. Fridge Trax set the tone for the label, evading convention by freely experimenting with sound outside of stylistic terms to create something both wildly abstract and original.

Christian Fennesz, an Austrian guitarist and songwriter, approached the label on similar terms. He left his band Maische in 1992, launching his solo career with his debut release Instrument in 1995 - a glitching, mesmerising EP focussed on electroacoustic music layered with electric guitars. It was the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship; Fennesz would go on to release 3 solo albums for the label, and form Fenn O’Berg with Rehberg and Jim O’Rourke.

Pita released the first instalment in his Get series Get Out in 1999, created on the road during Mego tours in Vienna, Paris, Oxford, Amsterdam, Tokyo and New York. It was an instant contrast to his first album, Seven Tons For Free, with harsh noise splitting from ear to ear that somehow dips its foot into pop structures and warm harmonies as its textural soundscapes evolve.

During their first few years, Mego started gaining a reputation for ‘laptop noise’, something that Rehberg neither understood nor identified with. This is perhaps because it failed to represent the label’s variety and vision, or perhaps because it seems to strip music of its emotional impact, rendering it robotic and cold at the hands of computers rather than humans. “Music has emotion, of course, because it’s coming from my body,” Rehberg commented. “I’ve never understood the criticism that machine music has no soul. The machine isn’t really making music itself. Someone has to turn it on”.

Two releases from 2001 proved to disavow any association with ‘laptop noise’. Japanese avant-pop artist Tujiko Noriko released her international debut named Shojo Toshi. The album turned heads when it came out; its curiously beautiful, leftfield bilingual pop songs were totally out of place with the perceivedly harsh and heady Mego roster, which was precisely the point.

About a month later, Fennesz’s second Mego album drove that point home. Far from the abstracted chasms of his first album Hotel Paral.lel, Endless Summer introduced a warmth that seemed almost the antithesis of previous descriptors of the label, with its emotionally drenched, sunbleached acoustic guitars and strings dismantling preconceptions of Mego’s sound entirely.

Mego grew steadily throughout the late 90s and early 00s, accumulating releases from Merzbow, Hecker, Jim O’Rourke, and Kevin Drumm. Due to a changing market the label closed in 2005. The following year however, Rehberg hit the reboot button, unveiling Editions Mego. He would go on to oversee over 200 more essential releases to the label’s catalogue, starting with Flux Compendium by Anthony Pateras & Robin Fox, and the introduction of Sunn O)))’s Stephen O’Malley to the label via his work with Rehberg and artist, choreographer and director Gisèle Vienne as KTL.

American musician Daniel Lopatin AKA Oneohtrix Point Never released his fourth studio album Returnal on Editions Mego in 2010. Returnal opens with a full throttle sensory assault before settling into shimmering synth soundscapes and psychotronic pop excursions, echoing the experimental landscape the label is known for operating within.

Both Returnal and Emeralds’ Does It Look Like I’m Here? landed on numerous end of year lists, including Bleep’s Top 10 Albums of 2010. Emeralds found their way to Editions Mego from the relative isolation of Cleveland, joining with their third album that married accessible pop formats to enveloping, bright guitar tones and optimistic synth journeys.

The next few years proved incredibly prolific, with a handful of sublabels propelling Editions Mego even further into its mission for eclecticism. John Elliott of Emeralds was the first to break through with Spectrum Spools, his own curation of American underground music and anything else he could find. This output included a range of releases, from the metallic alien soundscapes of Neel’s Phobos to the rhythmic frenzies of Second Woman’s S/W, plus reissues of Belong’s October Language and Robert Turman’s 1981 avant garde debut Flux, both receiving represses later in 2022 along with the monumental Donato Dozzy Plays Bee Mask from 2013.

Stephen O’Malley was next to launch a sublabel with Ideologic Organ, a wide reaching selection of esoteric oriented sounds ranging from crushingly experimental to soothingly sublime. The discography includes psychedelic folk pop from Ai Aso, visceral cello performances from Okkyung Lee and sacred flute music from New Guinea.

Amongst curatorial sublabels were artist-led series, like the experimental recordings from Jim O’Rourke’s back catalogue manifested as Old News. Freeform expressions of elated synth jazz collide with condensed drones like sonic tidal waves across the series’ five instalments. On the other side of the spectrum, Mark Fell’s Sensate Focus series turned to the dancefloor for vibrant house and techno, with collaborators such as fellow SND member Mat Steel, Sasu Ripatti AKA Vladislav Delay, and Winston Hazel of the legendary Forgemasters.

Another celebrated branch of Editions Mego is Recollection GRM, a project embarked on by Rehberg and Ina-GRM’s François Bonnet and Christian Zanési to reissue seminal and long out of print records from electroacoustic researchers Groupe de Recherches Musicales. Founded in Paris by musique concrète pioneer Pierre Schaeffer in 1958 and in operation still to this day, the institute fostered work from countless experimental composers such as Iannis Xenakis, Bernard Parmegiani and Beatriz Ferreyra.

Having brought these works of significance to a new era, the confluence of Editions Mego and GRM also saw a new series launched in 2020. Portraits GRM focussed on newly commissioned works from Okkyung Lee, Hecker, and Lucy Railton. Along with Ideologic Organ, both GRM labels will continue to release through French label Shelter Press.

As Editions Mego forged onwards, a new vanguard of artists emerged with fresh experimentations and emotional evocations. Italian composer and producer Caterina Barbieri weaved mesmerising synth tapestries on Ecstatic Computation, Bleep’s #1 album of 2019. Hailing from Nairobi, KMRU scored vast sonic worlds with tender, slow-moving ambient drone on his album Peel.

Turkish artist Hüma Utku’s second album The Psychologist deals in titular concepts of consciousness and mind interacting with body, eschewing genre to evoke grief and inner complexity through technoid beats, cutting strings and cinematic textures. Nik Colk Void’s Bucked Up Space was recorded largely in collaboration with Peter Rehberg, taking inspiration from the vibrational feeling she has experienced performing live in clubs and galleries in the UK and around the world with both NPVR alongside Rehberg and Factory Floor. Her previous work with Rehberg as NPVR come through as she revels in the joy of live improvisation, with carefully crafted leftfield rhythms sitting in the curious space of experimental electronic music that the label was born from.

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