Moritz Von Oswald Trio – Vertical Ascent (Honest Jon’s) 2LP
By any reasonable standards, the Moritz Von Oswald Trio is in bad shape. Group leader Von Oswald is still in recovery from a stroke, while percussionist Vladislav Delay is said to have had serious heart problems in recent years. Musically, though, the trio is in rude health.
Well, perhaps that’s a little misleading. This is Moritz Von Oswald we’re talking about here. He of the Basic Channel duo, legendary for stripping techno down to a feint, radiant pulse and (as Rhythm & Sound) reducing vintage reggae to its raw essence of hiss and crackle.
Vertical Ascent is as skeletal and challenging as anything in the Von Oswald back catalogue – and does a great job of transferring the BC aesthetic to a live, improvising band context.
In fact, this is such an austere record that you might find it somewhat hard to love at first. But – given the proper attention – Vertical Ascent induces a fascination that goes beyond the merely cerebral.
It might help if you start with “Pattern 4” (in typically uncompromising style, Von Oswald leaves the most accessible track ’til last). Here, a dubby, downtempo beat cushions the blow of Delay’s clanging metal percussion and the sundry stark synth oscillations.
While it’s very recognizably a Basic Channel-related release, there’s nothing else out there that’s quite like Vertical Ascent. Unique and ingenious, it’s already looking like a good contender for record of the year. You are strongly advised to buy it from Honest Jon’s.