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Moritz Von Oswald Trio - Sounding Lines (2015)

8-11-2015, 16:22
Music | Electronic

Title: Sounding Lines
Year Of Release: 2015
Label: Honest Jon's Records
Genre: Experimental / Electronic
Quality: MP3 320 kBit/s
Total Time: 49:05 min
Total Size: 113 MB


1. Sounding Line 1
2. Sounding Line 2
3. Sounding Line 3
4. Sounding Line 4
5. Sounding Line 5
6. Sounding Line 6 (Spectre)
7. Sounding Line 7
8. Sounding Line 8

In spite of its name, the Moritz Von Oswald Trio has rarely made direct overtures to jazz. But it has absorbed jazz practice in subtle ways. Primacy is given to improvisation. Live, in-the-room recordings are favoured over multi-tracked studio work. The lineup is fluid, too, with recent albums featuring a cast of players alongside the core group of Von Oswald, Max Loderbauer and Sasu Ripatti (AKA Vladislav Delay). This game of musical chairs continues on Sounding Lines, on which Ripatti is replaced by afrobeat legend Tony Allen. This time, the personnel change comes with a drastic change of sound—and not an entirely good one.

Ricardo Villalobos mixed the album and, whether intentionally or not, it's his influence that looms largest. Gone are the sonorous clangs of Ripatti's homemade percussion and the rich, reverbed spaces that tied the trio to dub. Instead, we get dry, ultra-precise minimalism. The opening track is a ten-minute techno trudge, its clockwork precision teased and tested by Allen's dextrous snare work. There are some chords in there, bright and dissonant, but like most of the album's harmonic content they're mixed so low as to be almost inaudible.

The focus is placed squarely on rhythm. On track six, a few rubbery synth loops keep time while Allen turns rhythmic somersaults over the top. Track seven's clavinet-like lead feels like a nod to funk, but it's funk boiled down to a fine powder, innocuous-seeming but clinically strong. Both tracks are hypnotic, but elsewhere restraint all too easily slides into blandness. On track three, which pairs Allen off with gentle chord-stabs, the momentum slowly dribbles away until we're left with a clotted mess. There and elsewhere, it's not clear exactly where Von Oswald and co are headed. In music this stripped-back, such aimlessness can be fatal.

There's the occasional hint of another, more vivid album: in the sour chords at the opening of track eight, for instance, or the dubby fourth track, in which Allen's drumming is sent pinging through a maze of delay FX. The latter is a rare attempt to bring drums and electronics closer together. Elsewhere they often seem all too separate, like combatants squaring off in a strange, airless room. DOWNLOAD DOWNLOAD DOWNLOAD

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