- Round these parts Moritz Von Oswald is the proverbial no-intro needer. Not only did his '90s output have an almost inestimable influence on a generation of dub techno heads, but his continued public presence as an electronic music impresario keeps this from being forgotten. How many times have you read a dub techno review that references Basic Channel? Here in jazz-band leader form the man heads up own trio together with Max Loderbauer of NSI and Sun Electric, and Sasu Ripatti, AKA Luomo, AKA Vladislav Delay.
The culmination of several years of live shows, Vertical Ascent is an utterly compelling and complex release, seamlessly fusing organic free-flow improvisation with the pristine electronic palette you expect from von Oswald. The four "Patterns" here follow a generally dub-like structure, where a relentless patter of midtempo percussion provides the propulsive counterpoint to heady, diaphonous atmospherics. The languid churn makes for workday ambiance, the mesmerizing fluid textures make for a repeat-listening delight.
Since the focus is on exploring a restrained set of sonic possibilities, it's perhaps best to view the four tracks here as a group of variants rather than discrete compositions. The jazzy live-band vibe is most noticeable in Pattern 1, where Ripatti's nimble ride/hi-hat work and an oddly dry clap measure a clipped, breezy pace. It's the most dynamic and immediately gripping of the four tracks, a gently twisting river of sound, burbling and bubbling, heavy on stereo pan and undulating texture. It sounds something like stoned cyborgs covering Miles Davis' late-night fusion classic "In a Silent Way."
Pattern 2 is the most atmospheric, its slow-mo heartbeat and spare, resonant clamor suggesting passage through some dank and shadowy interstice: an anthem for the urban spelunker. Then a flood of light at tunnel's end: Ripatti returns with more uptempo percolation, this time with more of a Latin flavor, and a vaguely Balearic scent wafts across the groove, as if we've vertically ascended from subway tunnel to sand dune. Like Pattern 1, 3 locks into a hypnotic combination of light, flittering rhythms and subtle sonic accents with spare, contemplative Rhodes chords, very ready for Mai Tais and flip flops.
Pattern 4 adopts a heavy bricklayer beat complete with reverb-drenched snare slap, a steam-building mid-tempo rocker that most overtly shows off von Oswald's deep mastery and love of the dub. A cluster of softly filtered fog horns melts into view, then suddenly, instead of the kind of near-infinite fade-out you might expect from such a deeply drifting record, there's a sharp synth burst and silence. It's a pleasantly rude interruption that makes you want to flip the wax and immerse yourself all over again.
01. Pattern 1
02. Pattern 2
03. Pattern 3
04. Pattern 4