A track off Praga Khan’s new Antler Subway album, “Pragamatic,” says it all for leader Maurice Engelen: “My Mind Is My Enemy.”
Engelen, who is one-third of the techno gods Lords of Acid, spent the past five years in the studio working on “Pragamatic,” as well as masterminding Lords of Acid albums and side projects Digital Orgasm, The Immortals, Tattoo of Pain and Channel X. The heavy workload prevented him from joining his fellow Lords on the road.
He developed a serious case of cabin fever.
“I would read e-mail about how people saw (the Lords) in Indianapolis or wherever,” Engelen said recently from his home in Belgium, “and here I was reading it on the Web site at home. I was really, really in a bad mood. Now, when I look back at it, at this moment I’m very happy I did the album, because otherwise I wouldn’t be doing the concerts I’ll be doing soon.”
Engelen won’t be stretching himself thin anymore. He says he’s going to devote himself entirely to Praga Khan and Lords of Acid. Nothing else. Like Lords of Acid, Praga Khan is full of big beats and driving melodies, but Engelen said the two are quite different.
“When we record Lords of Acid,” he said, “it’s like Oliver Adams, Nikki (Van Lierop) and me, and all three of us put our ideas in there. Praga Khan is more like my thing; no compromises and stuff, it’s just the way I see it. At the end of the day, it’s how I see it. It’s different. It’s more special because there’s more me in there … personal things, personal statements.
“Lords of Acid is more of a fun thing, all like sex with a wink, you know. It’s funny. But Praga Khan is more personal and intense. I try to bring my emotions into the music, so when it’s a sad song, in the music you also hear the intensity and the anger. It’s like trying to translate my thoughts and feelings into music.”
Those feelings, particularly on a remake of Praga Khan’s 1991 groundbreaker “Injected With a Poison,” have plenty of soul.
“What I don’t like is that some people think when you make electronic music that it’s just machines, that you make them run and you make the sound filter and all that stuff,” Engelen said. “But what I want to do with this album is make people know you can make this electronic music with a soul. That’s why I used a lot of lyrics so these songs have an opportunity to get played on the radio.”
Engelen originally was a club disc jockey, but he quickly discovered his forte was creating his own music. In 1988, he formed Lords of Acid and later co-founded Antler Subway.
“Apart from being a DJ,” he said, “I was also doing a little bit of management for bands in those days. These bands, they started to ask me my opinion and I had to go into the studio and explain to them this and that. At the end of the day, I’m thinking to myself, ‘Oh, my god, 70 percent of this song is made by me,’ by giving them all types of direction. So I said, ‘You have to do it yourself, instead of giving these people all your ideas and not being credited for it.’ ”
Lords of Acid went beyond being just an underground force in 1992 with the gold-selling “Lust” album. When Engelen wasn’t busy with them, he was scoring music for such films as “Basic Instinct” and “Sliver” and remixing tracks for White Zombie, Alice in Chains, Gravity Kills and Corrosion of Conformity.
After a tour of Japan and much of Europe in September, Engelen hopes to bring Praga Khan to the United States in October.
“The strange thing is,” Engelen said, “it was maybe four years ago since I did a concert. I was always locked up in the studio. While I was making the album, I had so many arguments with my American company, ‘You know, you get me into the studio for so long, and now Lords of Acid are on tour and I’m still in the studio and I’m never going to get out of the studio.’ I was going insane. That’s one of the moments when I recorded ‘My Mind Is My Enemy,’ because I was thinking I was on a thin line between sane and insane.
“But I survived, and it’s still raining outside like the first day I went into the studio. What more can you expect in Belgium?”
BWF (before we forget): Praga Khan is alive and well on the Web @ www.pragakhan.com.