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Thomas Köner

One of the few musicians with ties to the unrelated but somewhat connected fields of contemporary avant-garde, techno, and indie rock, Thomas Köner has released albums of sparse ambience for the Dutch Barooni label, recorded similarly skeletal and lo-fi techno (with Andy Mellwig) as Porter Ricks, and appeared on albums by Bill Laswell's Divination as well as Sonic Boom's EAR collective. A native of Germany, Köner began recording with 1990's Nunatak Gongamur, the first in a series of LPs for Barooni. The album was created entirely using gongs as its source material. The haunting, surprisingly bass-heavy Teimo followed in 1991, and the album helped establish Köner's name in the ambient music world. The aptly titled Permafrost followed in 1993, to more acclaim. The sparser Aubrite appeared on the same label in 1995. In 1996, Köner appeared on Distill, an album by Bill Laswell's ambient-dub project Divination, which called upon a roster of experimentalist composers including Paul Schütze, Pete Namlook, Anton Fier, Haroumi Hosono, Mick Harris, and Tetsu Inoue. Also lending his name -- literally -- to an EAR (Experimental Audio Research) album titled The Köner Experiment, he produced the work with rhythm and programming help from Andy Mellwig. Mellwig and Köner had already recorded several EPs of shadowed techno as Porter Ricks (later collected on the 1996 Chain Reaction quasi-compilation Biokinetics). In 1997, Porter Ricks' self-titled second album appeared on Mille Plateaux, and the label issued Teimo and Permafrost as a double CD. Köner also contributed a disc called Nuuk to Driftworks, a four-CD ambient box set released by Big Cat. The Köner solo effort Kaamos followed on Mille Plateaux in 1998. Porter Ricks' split album with Techno Animal appeared on Force Inc. in 1999. Köner began working with the German avant-garde label Die Stadt during the early 2000s. He formed a project called Kontakt der Jünglinge with Asmus Tietchens, and the pair released several albums through the label. He also released limited split 7" singles with Tietchens and Illusion of Safety. Köner's solo album Unerforschtes Gebiet appeared on Die Stadt in 2001, initially released as a picture-disc LP. He continued to record for Mille Plateaux, with the live recording Daikan appearing on the label in early 2002 and a collaborative double CD, Zyklop, following in 2003. The label's short-lived successor, Mille Plateaux, reissued Nuuk with a DVD in 2004. After a hiatus, Köner returned in 2009 with La Barca, an ambitious album featuring field recordings from the world's major cities. In 2010, Type reissued Köner's first three albums; a Biokinetics reissue followed on the label in 2012. The same year also saw the release of Köner's Novaya Zemlya on Touch. He collaborated with Jana Winderen for a live performance in Normandy, France in 2014, and Touch released the recording as the digital-only album Cloître. Köner's sparse, piano-centered Tiento de las Nieves appeared on the German label Denovali during the same year. In 2015, The Futurist Manifesto, Köner's mini-opera about the Italian Futurist movement, was released on DVD by the Von label. Tiento de la Luz, the second part of the Tiento trilogy, was issued by Denovali in 2016. The following year, he reunited with Porter Ricks collaborator Andy Mellwig for Anguilla Electrica, the duo's first album of new material since 1999. Also that year, his live album with Winderen, Cloître, received a physical release from Touch.
© John Bush & Paul Simpson /TiVo


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