Jimmy Johnson / Courtesy of the artist
Peter Rehberg, who recorded groundbreaking albums under the name Pita and under his own name, and who ran the influential electronic record company Editions Mego, died suddenly on July 22 in Berlin at the age of 53. The cause was a heart attack, Isabelle Piechaczyk, his former partner, confirmed to NPR. His death was first announced on Instagram by the Franco-Swiss composer François Bonnet, who recorded for Editions Mego under the name Kassel Jaeger.
In 2014, Rehberg told an interviewer: “A lot of people at my age – I’m now 46 this year – are complaining, ‘Oh, it’s not as good as it used to be.'” he was thinking with Red Bull Academy on its history of running first Mego, the avant-garde Viennese brand that he joined shortly after its founding in 1994, then its successor, Mego editions, which he launched in 2006.
“As soon as you have that in your brain,” Rehberg continued, “then you can just go and retire. Stop. I think this is something that should be avoided. The good old days don’t exist. “
Born in London on June 29, 1968, Rehberg spent his youth in England, attending school in St. Albans. (Written for The Quietus, classmate Jean Eden remembered the generous influence and humor of his fellow students.) He then moved to Austria, where his father was from, and settled in Vienna. He began his musical career as Pita, a self-proclaimed “ambient DJ” in the mid-90s, and soon crossed paths with Ramon Bauer and Andreas Pieper, musicians who recorded under the name General Magic.
Bauer and Pieper, together with Peter Meininger, founded Mego, a label that will have a huge impact in electronic improvisation, noise and avant-garde techno. The first version of Mego, Trax refrigerator, Associates General Magic with Pita, and Rehberg soon joined the management of the label. In addition to recordings of his principals, Mego has released landmark albums of Fennesz, Farmer’s Manual, Russell haswell, Hecker, Jim O’Rourke and Kevin Drum, among others.
After his debut in a feature film in 1996, Seven tons for free, Rehberg recorded a series of influential albums for Mego, including Get out (1999) and its successor, To come down (2002). As a composer and performer, he drew on elements of techno, noise, glitch and electronic improvisation, and was instrumental in making the laptop a familiar tool on stage.
Inveterate collaborator, Rehberg will forge lasting bonds with Christian Fennesz and Jim O’Rourke (like Fenn O’Berg), Sunn O))) guitarist Stephen o’malley (as KTL) and, more recently, Nik Void of Factory Floor (as NPVR). His larger-scale collaborations included Afternoon tea, a widely acclaimed free improv set with Rehberg, Fennesz and Paul Gough (Pimmon), on computer, with guitarists Keith Rowe and Oren Ambarchi; and MIMEO, a flexible supergroup that also included Fennesz and Rowe.
After Mego ceased operations in 2005, Rehberg established Mego editions, a label whose booming catalog would soon eclipse that of its famous predecessor. In addition to re-releasing old Mego albums and recording new music with some of the label’s most prominent artists, Rehberg has adopted a wide range of approaches and sounds, including Oneohtrix Point Never, Emeralds, Mark Fell. , Jan St. Werner and Bill Orcutt. Working in a male-dominated environment, Rehberg has championed female artists including Caterina Barbieri, C. Lavender, Julia Reidy, Jasmine Guffond, Klara Lewis and Heather Leigh.
“There aren’t a lot of people buying every record on Mego Editions because there are so many,” Rehberg said in Red Bull 2014 interview. “But the idea that someone could listen to something that is not in their little shoebox is something that really interested me.”
Some of Rehberg’s collaborators have had the opportunity not only to make records, but also to organize sub-labels, including Ideologic Organ (Stephen O’Malley), Sensate Focus (Mark Fell) and Spectrum Spools (John Elliott of Emeralds). Bonnet, the director of INA GRM, worked with Rehberg on two series: GRM souvenir, devoted to the reissues of founding electronic works by composers such as Bernard Parmegiani, Luc Ferrari and François Bayle; and GRM portraits, who has released new compositions from O’Rourke, Max Eilbacher of Horse Lords and Okkyung Lee, among others.
Rehberg’s collaborations have transcended the world of music and he has maintained a particularly fruitful 20-year bond with the Franco-Austrian artist, choreographer and director. Gisele Vienna. Together, their work includes numerous exhibitions, installations, performances, tours, a book and a film. Work for GV 2004-2008, released as Rehberg, includes music he created for three Viennese projects. KTL’s first three albums, assembled by Vienna, involved ideas that Rehberg and O’Malley had devised for Kindertotenlieder, a production from Vienna and writer Dennis Cooper in which KTL had toured for several years, most recently at Holland Day in June. The duo’s sixth album, The pyre, presents a stereo version of the music Rehberg and O’Malley created for this title’s 2013 Vienna work, in which they also appeared live.
As a performer, Rehberg moved beyond the laptop niche, increasingly turning to modular synthesis. “Instead of moving a cursor across a screen on a Mac or a Superglider patch, I’m sticking cables into different modules,” he said. Cyclic defrost in 2016.
“Of course, the downside is that you can’t save anything,” he continued. “You have to keep recording stuff. So you’ve got hours and terabytes of audio gunk, which you kind of have to put into some usable form of music.” This specific combination of uncompromising quest and curiousness echoes Rehberg’s broad and generous approach to running his record labels.
The music of Rehberg, François Bonnet wrote on Instagram, had become denser over the years. “It was always radical and daring, but it was also deeper, more ambivalent, more moving too. It revealed unfathomable depths. You sometimes forget how talented a musician Peter Rehberg was, because of so much energy. that he devoted to the music of others. But he was an extraordinary musician. “
Rehberg is survived by his father, Alexander Rehberg, his brother, Michael Rehberg; his partner, Laura Siegmund; and her daughter, Natasha Rehberg, from a previous relationship with Isabelle Piechaczyk.