If talent converted into record sales, David Moufang would be a very rich man. His records with partner Jonas Grossmann as Deep Space Network and his own solo releases as Move D are among the furthest outreaches of techno’s push towards the stars. Moufang grew up in Heidelberg listening to his parents’ collection of early Pink Floyd and Kraftwerk records but the most overwhelming influence on his childhood was outer space, the result of a trip to the cinema with his father to see 2001: A Space Odyssey. “I was space crazy as a child,” Moufang told journalist Tony Marcus in 1995, “when the other kids were riding around in their little cars I’d be building my own spacecraft. I’d put in a small engine, put rubber on the wheels so it made some noise and stand there with a walkie-talkie and my headphones on. It was very techno…”
Moufang’s grandmothers were both classical concert pianists. He can still remember favourite childhood moments, sitting under the piano as they played, surrounded and lost in sound. By the age of 12, he taken up drums (he eventually went on to study classical percussion) and took up the guitar a few years later, this time taking lessons from two separate jazz guitar teachers. He played guitar in a band called Rivers & Trains well into the ’90s. Occasionally he even plied his trade as a DJ, spinning electro, funk and jazz. It wasn’t until 1989 that he discovered techno when a friend of his, D-Man, invited him to a club he was running in the industrial suburb of Mannheim. When Moufang walked into the Milk! Club that night – like so many others before and after him – he discovered a scene that changed his life. Discovering Detroit, 808 State, Nexus 21 and the first stirrings of ambient techno, Moufang became a committed clubber. Through D-Man, he met Redagain P who converted Moufang’s nickname “Mufti” into the more kinetic Move D.
Moufang’s first records were made with Grossmann as Deep Space Network. Their first two albums, EARTH TO INFINITY (1992) and BIG ROOMS (1993) suggested a significant, unpredictable and innovative talent which was confirmed by the release of HOMEWORKS (1993), a Source Records compilation that included solo tracks such as “Pulsar” and “I’ve Been On Drugs” alongside collaborations with D-Man. Ranging from subtle, Detroit-inflected grooves to wired electronic jazz, Moufang’s music seemed to operate on ambience, slow motion and subdued rhythm, a sound that was rooted, as Tony Marcus later pointed out, “in the jazzy, laid-back but still hip-tugging tradition of Larry Heard, Carl Craig’s “Microlovr” or “The Wonders Of Wishing” and New York’s Burrell Brothers… listening to [Moufang’s records] is like a sweet and lazy adventure into sound, a space where time and stress are suspended.”
REAGENZ (1994), a collaboration with SpaceTime Continuum’s Jonah Sharp, was an astonishing fusion of beautiful, experimental electronics that reached out to a point that even Detroit’s most visionary producers hadn’t yet achieved. Recorded between Heidelberg and San Francisco, it sounded like pianist Bill Evans might have if he’d grown up surrounded by Star Trek instead of modal jazz.
Moufang’s debut album, KUNSTSTOFF (1995), was equally remarkable. Tracks such as “Soap Bubbles” and “In/Out” oscillated between soft, dreamlike textures and the spiked electronics that Detroit was beginning to explore. The glittering production surfaces were a legacy of Moufang’s days as a student at the School of Audio Engineering, but the music they encompassed was equally compelling. It was an album full of contrasts – between the jagged drugfloor grooves of, say, “Nimm 2” and the gentle, synthetic lullaby of “Beyond The Machine” or between the pristine sounds Moufang conjured with and the haloes of analogue noise which surrounded others. Amazingly pretty and wildly innovative, KUNSTSTOFF remains one of the most accomplished techno albums to emerge from Europe so far.
The collaborative ventures that followed – including EXPLORING THE PSYCHEDELIC LANDSCAPE (1996) and A DAY IN THE LIVE (1997) with Pete Namlook – preceded an experimental single for Sheffield’s Warp label. Moufang had been a big fan of the label’s “bleep techno” output in the early ’90s and “Cymbelin” was, in some ways, a homage to that sound, twisting beats and synths into a bass heavy groove. But the producer’s ability to soften almost any structure with aching prettiness transformed the record into a unique fusion.
Another unique fusion was suggested by the release of CONJOINT (1997). A collaboration between Moufang, jazz veteran Karl Berger, Jamie Hodge (of Born Under A Rhyming Planet) and Gunter “Ruit” Kraus, it was Moufang’s most overtly jazzed outing so far, but provided spectacular evidence of his growing abilities as a producer and composer. Currently working on a number of new projects – including a new Deep Space Network album and a second Conjoint album – Moufang continues to explore the boundaries of electronic music.