Before Empire’s internationally successful group, Atari Teenage Riot released a record, Alec had recorded and released twenty or so twelve inches on Force Inc, and three albums on Mille Plateaux under his own name. Mille Plateaux had been formed in 1993 by the visionary Achim Szepanski who took the name of the label from the critique of social structure by Deleuze and Guattari.
Szepanski released records by artists who would have deconstructed if they had ever got around to constructing in the first place and in doing so liberated true creativity outside any conventions of popular music. In the nineties the new exponents of electronic music particularly in the UK and US are firmly part of the MTV generation drawing their inspiration from exploring the synthesizer’s potential, Detroit techno and Brian Eno’s ambient concepts. Empire instinctively dismantled structures that had existed for decades and set about finding new approaches within the context of his own compositions. Empire, rooted in mainland Europe’s modern classical iconoclasm, Germany’s summarily, (and incorrectly), dismissed Krautrock experimentation and his own deconstructionist tendency found his own path. There was no outlet for the UK’s underground’s new pretenders in early 90’s Germany and Empire was initially a sole voice in Germany contemporary youth music and heard revolutionary artists such as Oval and Curd Duca long before the likes of Aphex Twin or Prodigy had caught the ferry across the Channel.
Alec’s rock records were released on Digital Hardcore Recordings along with his contemporaries from Berlin’s hardcore breakbeat scene. However his more considered pieces were released initially on Mille Plateaux records and later his own Geist imprint. Empire’s earliest releases Limited Editions 1990–94 and Generation Starwars both came out in 1994. The first collected together pieces that showed Empire delving into the new fringes of electronica. Eighties pop had put it in a box and squeezed the life out of it but Empire was determined to reclaim the spirit of adventure and freedom that had blossomed in the sixties and seventies before commercial pop had bled the life from it.
Three very different albums followed.
Low on Ice was an extended mood piece evoking the vast expanse of the arctic tundra, it sonorous landscape and sense of isolation dissolved time and space. Recorded in a tent in Iceland using minimal equipment - this was long before the era of the laptop - the result was one of the coldest and sonorous recordings made to date. Empire described it as "slowly drowning in ice water, seeing the sun moving further away from you."
It was chosen amongst the 50 most important electronic music albums since the last 25 years by German Groove Magazine Hypermodern Jazz 2000.5 deconstructed the sounds of traditional jazz and reassembled it as a dystopian take of the music of the future. It has much in common with the Free Jazz movement of Coleman, Coltrane and Taylor; artists whom Empire had yet to hear).