If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s this: Listening to “Mau Tracks” (ft. Sara Jensen) by Harlequins Enigma for the first time, is an experience. You know there’s a journey ahead of you. It’s not until you fully immerse yourself, however, that you realize how intricate and beautiful that journey is. At his best, Åge Riisnes channels an ethereal, mysterious presence throughout the track. It combines jazz and fusion elements with European-synth-flair. The attention to progression is simply stunning; the focus deftly changes from calm to dramatic, sorrowful to triumphant. It rides on a groove that’s as instantly captivating as you’d expect it to be.
The music is heavily synth-based, but attention is paid to the percussion throughout “Mau Tracks” (ft. Sara Jensen); melodies and harmonies weave in and out of the soundscape painted by layers upon layers of synthesizers. The music present here is no immediate, rhythmic, accessible.
The arrangement commands your attention every step of the way. Although one can argue that it is as much of an existentialistic experience as it is a musical one, ultimately this only makes the track stronger as a whole. The underlying beauty found here is simply undeniable.
The experience of listening to this track can at times be one of commotion than of relaxation, as Harlequins Enigma employs mind-bending synth riffs and basslines. He draws you into his world with a sound that creates a trance-like state in the mind of the listener.
You get the sustained synth build-ups backed by repeating melodies and pulsating drums. It’s the kind of music that lets your mind take off between the beeps and whistles. While musically coherent and imminently appealing, Harlequins Enigma is a project distinct from scenes and trends. Progressive thinking is at the heart of its appeal.
“Mau Tracks” (ft. Sara Jensen) sounds like nothing else this year, or the year before, considering this track was recorded in 2018. Nor does it fit into any recent musical development beyond an incidental affinity with the resurgence of experimentation amongst a handful of courageous electronic producers.
Every electronic note and compositional element reeks of consideration and technical expertise that didn’t come overnight. In terms of impressive twists and turns, they’re aplenty. The track morphs, tangles, twists and reorganizes itself. I have no doubt that Harlequins Enigma has given us an excellent work of electronic music – a standout recording in an already peerless and consistent discography.
Crammed with ideas and fueled by a state of being, “Mau Tracks” (ft. Sara Jensen) is a track so immune to contemporary styles and aesthetics that it is almost by definition, timeless. The care lavished on the sound and theme is immediately evident – this is a track built for listening to on a decent audio system, its impressively layered blips and beats are an absolute aural delight. The song might seem dense and impenetrable at first, but dazzles after repeated listens.
MORE ABOUT: Harlequins Enigma is a Bergen, Norway-based band created in 2008 by synth musician, composer, and video producer, Åge Riisnes. Harlequins Enigma is mostly a one-man-band, but Elin Berge, Katie Leung, and Sara Jensen has served as co-members with several appearances over the years.
The primary musical creations revolve around chip-tune, electronica, techno, experimental, video game soundtracks, space, ambient, and new age genres. Notwithstanding all the health issues, which has hampered his career along the way, Åge is focused on human rights, equality, positive technology, and an affinity for a natural world.