Archive for August, 2009

Moritz Von Oswald Trio – Vertical Ascent (Honest Jon’s) 2LP

Moritz Von Oswald Trio - Vertical Ascent

Moritz Von Oswald Trio - Vertical Ascent

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.

August 21, 2009 at 9:00 am 4 comments

Tape – Luminarium (Immune) LP

Tape - Luminarium

Tape - Luminarium

Tape is a Swedish post-rock trio featuring veteran “glitch” electronica artist Andreas Berthling. Luminarium is the band’s most recent album and also its best. Originally released on CD in 2008, it has subsequently been issued in a handsome vinyl edition by Chicago’s Immune label.

It’s easy to regard Tape as being a European equivalent of Brooklyn duo Mountains. Both Tape and Mountains run very dependable experimental music labels (Hapna and Apestaatrje, respectively) and both mix highly melodic live playing with grainy, glitchy electronic textures.

Recently, it has started to seem like the Swedish trio has  been living in the shadow of its US equivalent. This year, Mountains released an album (Choral) on the relatively high-profile Thrill Jockey label, garnering noticeably more attention than just about any other record to have emerged from the post-Fennesz electronic underground.

However, while those flashy Americans have been conspicuously collecting plaudits, the subtle Swedes have been gaining both artistic and commercial momentum. Consequently, Luminarium appeared on a really quite surprising number of blogs’ 2008 top tens.

Really, it’s no wonder. Luminarium opens with the timeless melodic loveliness of  “Beams”, moves un-fussily onto the equally lovely “Moth Wings” and steadfastly refuses to flag from thereon in. The Tape boys know how to leave just enough space between the notes. They also know how to add just enough ugliness and grit to their compositions to prevent these marvellous tunes from becoming mere decorative fluff.

Luminarium will work its way into your affections gradually. It’s not a needy album. It’s humble but confident and very very giving. Let Luminarium light up your life. Buy a copy from from Forced Exposure.

August 20, 2009 at 10:51 pm 5 comments

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