Alone in the Field
Who is Multi-Panel? That's a good question, but it's not quite the right one. Continuing in electronica's odd tradition of using collective names for individuals, Multi-Panel is Ludo Maas, a laid-back nineteen year old musical experimentalist, who is otherwise decidedly atypical. Ludo is from the city of Breda in The Netherlands. Though Breda is known for it's thriving electronic scene (it's the home of trance mogul DJ Tiesto), Multi-Panel managed to remain blissfully unaware of the latest mass-market trends and shallow club singles. Instead, he opted to lose himself in Breda's even-keeled friendliness - the city of 160,000 inhabitants wasn't crowded or busy enough to to live in isolation, nor small enough to encourage that youthful rebellion that pulls kids to big cities in search of fame and fortune. Unlike it's North American counterparts there is no urban sprawl. The city is surrounded by a ring of pastoral paradise. Breda's actually just, well... nice - a perfect place for an even-tempered youth to turn his imagination and thoughtfulness inside out through music. The sonic catalyst of this chemistry is unquestionably unique. If you had never seen a Rhinoceros, but were given a written description of one and asked to draw what you saw, you'd have a good idea of what Multi-Panel's state of mind is like. Like sketching the unknown rhino, Ludo creates electronica that sounds like it's abstract description. Rather than simply following the well-worn beat and loop conventions of electronica, he approaches his vision with a a fresh point of view, a keen ear for natural melody and a reflective intelligence. Every instrument, physical or synthesized, has it's own voice on every excursion. No single instrument serves as the focus of the record; genres bend around his songs like gravity. He is telling an analog story digitally, creating songs that are both atmospheric and intimate. Like many of his generation, Multi-Panel has grown up as an interface between the analog and digital worlds, dividing his time between soccer and video games, between solitary thought and outward explorations into musical expression. His first memories of music include dancing to Queen on his parents' coffee table and feeling scared for Courtney Cox in Bruce Springsteen's Dancing in the Dark video as she was 'randomly' pulled onstage. He continued his interest in music later on, taking a course that introduced him to a variety of instruments through basic lessons. But instead of emphasizing the exhaustive mastery of a particular instrument, the course emphasized exposure to as many sounds and ideas as possible. To this day, Multi-Panel will select an instrument, as opposed to a sample, and master that instrument if only for the context of a single phrase in a single song. This diversity and freeness of thought clearly resonates on Multi-Panel's debut for Unschooled Records, Alone in the Field. Like Four Tet, Multi-Panel is primarily concerned with making music that is structured, crisp, and melodic, yet with a distinct subtlety and intelligence all his own. Though his work is often branded as 'laptop folk', that simplicity is almost misleading: an ocean is not a big lake, nor is a flower a small tree. Both are something all their own. And so is Multi-Panel.