Mark Spoon

Pioneer of trance music

Thursday 19 January 2006 01:00

Markus Löffel (Mark Spoon), DJ, producer and remixer: born Frankfurt 27 November 1966; died Berlin 11 January 2006.

In the early Seventies, German groups like Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk and the Italian-born producer Giorgio Moroder pioneered various forms of electronic music, such as ambient, robotic pop and disco, which influenced the next two generations of soundtrack composers and rap and dance artists around the world.

Twenty years later, the German duo Jam & Spoon (respectively Rolf Ellmer and Markus Löffel) put a new spin on house music from Chicago and techno from Detroit - two genres heavily indebted to Kraftwerk and Moroder - and created a mellower hybrid called "trance" after the hypnotic, trance-like effect it had on club-goers.

In 1993, Jam & Spoon scored a hit across Europe with "Right in the Night (Fall in Love with Music)" featuring the female vocalist Plavka, a tune so infectious it charted in Britain twice and became a club favourite over the next two years. Tripomatic Fairytales (2001), the duo's début album, also made the British charts in 1994 while two follow-up singles, "Find Me (Odyssey to Anyoona)" and "Angel (Ladadi O-Heyo)", reached the UK Top Forty.

Ellmer and Löffel also recorded under the names Tokyo Ghetto Pussy and Storm and created dance-floor fillers with "Everybody on the Floor (Pump It)" in 1995, as well as "Time to Burn" and "Storm Animal" in 2000.

Born in Frankfurt in 1966, Markus Löffel simply translated his name to become Mark Spoon when, to supplement his income as a cook, he began DJ-ing in the mid-Eighties. By the early Nineties, his growing reputation on the German dance scene had secured him a position as A&R man at Logic Records. In 1991, Spoon signed up Alban Nwapa, a Nigerian dental student who had made his name rapping in Sweden as Dr Alban and charted across Europe with the naggingly catchy "It's My Life" the following year.

By then, Spoon had already teamed up with the classically trained guitarist turned producer Rolf Ellmer, who took up the alias Jam El Mar. The pair remixed Alex Lee's "Age of Love", Moby's "Go" and a reissue of Frankie Goes To Hollywood's "Relax" and in 1992 issued their own EP, "Tales from a Danceographic Ocean", a knowing nod in the direction of Tales from Topographic Oceans, the much-maligned Yes double album of 1973.

Voted Best Remixers of the Year by the British dance magazine Mixmag in 1994, over the next five years Jam & Spoon reworked singles by Deep Forrest, Enigma, New Order, the Pet Shop Boys, Simple Minds and Stereo MCs.

Despite the declining appeal of dance music, Ellmer and Löffel reverted to their Jam & Spoon personas and released the single "Be Angeled" and the album Kaleidoscope in 2002.

Pierre Perrone

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