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Ratkiller – Comfortably Declined (Baba Vanga, 2015)

Published January, 2015
by Easterndaze

A shimmering coating envelopes the buoyant beats, that retain an inherent nostalgia, not in a sentimental sense, but in a sense of extatic retro bonvivant atmosphere. No wonder one of his unwitting influences was Hieroglyphic Being, notable for his idiosyncratic approach to dance music. “I think Ratkiller was born out of my strange fascination with electronic dance music or club music. The basic house and techno stuff that I still find quite mysterious. That’s because it has never been natural to me. It’s not something I grew up with. Everything in it seemed to be in total contrast with what I had listened before. However I was more and more drawn to it and after some time it felt natural enough to try something myself,” says Mihkel Kleis. “Although I still don’t know how it actually should be done. In a way I am like a parrot – I like to imitate but I don’t have any clue what I’m saying. And because of my prog and fusion background and general obsession with weirdness and controversies it often turns out very different than what I intended in the first place.”

Based in Estonia’s capital Tallinn, Mihkel Kleis has an affinity for black metal, not for the obvious tropes, but because of its specific lingering, ominous atmosphere, though you’d be hard-pressed to search for its marks on this tape, darkness has become co-opted, anyway. Another of his sonic influences, however, is jazz and free improvisation, the jouissance of playing, experimenting with the essence of music-making and the pleasure of the process rather than the end product necessarily. “It’s all only about unexplained rhythms and harmonies that just seem to exist everywhere. I don’t really have any need to add extra meaning to it, it’s like conceptualizing heartbeats or the rhythm of walking. The interpretations are infinite. Things are fun only as long as they are unexplained.”