Metope Kobol

Metope is the alias of Cologne’s Michael Schwanen, and if you haven’t been surfing through the vinyl bins at your local techno shop, then chances are his name is new to you. Around these parts, he’s still most known for being the owner of the fledging micro-label, Areal Records. Last year, Areal’s girl wonder, Ada, issued her and the label’s debut album, Blondie, to widespread critical acclaim. Unlike Ada’s album, which broaches a Björk-for-the-clubs pop fetish, Metope has opted for a more straightforward, four-to-the-floor, hour-long techno journey. "Rebird,” the jittery opener, sets the tone early on with lean and serious stomping. From thereon in, tracks like banger highlight "Superimbat” and the not-so-Nashville "Nashville” all follow suit, staying the course. If anything, the first four tracks can be criticised for not using the album platform to stretch out Metope’s twelve-inch approach. But by the time we get to "Alm Realm,” Schwanen opens up his template to let in some gloomy break beats, and it’s at that point that Kobol begins to spread its wings. By slowing things down a notch, tracks like "M1d1” take on some much-needed subversion. All in all, Metope offers no pretence of trying to go the route of Ada and appeal to a larger pop audience. But for those who do crave serious, unfettered techno, Kobol is a prize find.

When and why did you start Areal records? In 1998 I moved to Cologne and met Matthias Klein (aka Konfekt) and Sebastian Riedl (aka Basteroid). We realised that we all produced music for fun and decided to rent a studio together. That way we started to influence each other in music, technique and technical know-how. At some point we had finished songs and we thought, "Man, there is no way we’re gonna start to send demos around now,” and we didn't want to separate our stuff. So we decided to found Areal as a private platform, which has become very public since.

Label owner, producer, live act... you keep yourself busy. How do you find enjoyment in each of these roles? I really love all these parts in my life. It’s nice to work in the office and to do usual business stuff, and it’s a great change from my weekends or when I produce. Playing live is the best part right now because it’s great to see the world, a public response to your art, and of course, you make some money and party. But I don't wanna be on tour in five years. By then, I would also prefer to produce someone else other than myself. The label thing is something that will stay forever, or until nobody wants to listen to it anymore. (Areal)