The long-awaited new album Model 3, Step 2 is a result of collaborations from Microstoria’s performances from the past six years. From this source material, the duo edited and produced a release that incorporates the guitar work and digital sound manipulation into the atmospheric clicks, pops and feedback similar to that of previous Microstoria releases and albums from the Mille Plateux label. The eight tracks on the album can sound like random studio fidgeting at first, but Microstoria has sequenced and edited the tracks into specific song structures that transform tones and ambient noise into something that is very warm and soothing. Markus Pop, the creator behind Oval, and Jan St Werner of Mouse on Mars have collaborated as Microstoria on both Init Ding (1995) and Snd (1996). Both are acclaimed releases that incorporate innovative technology for their experimental work. Microstoria compares their writing methods to that of the free-form jazz musicians. The compositions on Model 3, Step 2 can sound very improvised but have a tight structure that really keeps each piece together. For those not familiar with the more experimental side of electronic music, or Popp’s more appropriate term "augmented digital audio realities," this is material that demands attention and sometimes needs exploration by the listener to fully understand. Their approach to sound is much like gesture drawing in that the creation of the piece is just as important as the end product. The soundscapes that Microstoria create are multi-dimensional; sounds are processed beyond recognition and into surreal environments that are detached from the usual emotions in contemporary music. Today’s genres such as rock, R & B, pop, and so forth are designed to simulate or create a reaction of the primary human emotions: love, fear, triumph, etc. Some forms of electronic music are meant to be focused on more as elements of sound and less as "songs" or music. These sounds, like any element of our environment, whether conscious or unconscious, add some degree of emotion to our day to day existence. A few degrees hotter or cooler in temperature may result in us to being comfortable or irritable just as a tone pitched a few decibels this or that direction may have an unconscious effect on our experience. Each of the nine tracks on this album is constructed from fabrics of sounds that you might hear every day in the background of your day’s activities. While your mind, or maybe even the music you listen to, tries so hard to block out sounds of distortion, crackles and digital buzzing, Microstoria utilizes them and isolates them from any recognizable point of reference. As you listen to the album you swear you’ve heard the sound but you never seem to put your finger on what it is. Perhaps the album’s biggest accomplishment is the way Microstoria has created such an incredible atmosphere and warmth to tracks created from such cold sounding resources. Sounds that a person might find irritating anywhere else are now approachable and interesting.
Model 3, Step2 makes me wonder if people can not only seek comfort in the voice of a friend but also in the ambient sounds of a cell phone or hard drive.