OZmotic – Liquid Times

Posted: 9 May 2016 in Albums
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Folk Wisdom / SObject – March 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

IDM is one of those terms that sits a little uncomfortably. Not as uncomfortably as EDM, which is something of a tautology (granted, salsa, swing, and Ceroc is dance music, but in contemporary music circles, dance music is electronic by nature), but even so. The ‘I’ implies a certain snobbery over other forms of dance music, as if they must collectively be UDM (Unintelligent Dance Music) or DMM (Dance Music for Morons). Even if that is the case, isn’t it for the listener to decide whether the music is ‘intelligent’ or ‘dumb’? No matter: following on from Air Effect with Christian Fennesz, instrumental electronic duo OZmotic return with Liquid Times, an eclectic blend of forms which, as the blurb notes, embraces ‘IDM, ambient, nuances from techno, noise and glitch music.’ Nuance is indeed the operative word here, and precisely the key to the album’s success.

Fennesz, who also serves as a member of the live lineup, again features on two of the tracks here. Elsewhere, the duo have enlisted German producer Senking to remix two of the album’s tracks, as well as Frank Breitschneider: both are affiliated with Raster Noton, which more or less speaks for itself, being the label at the forefront of all things experimental.

So, that’s the form and the roll-call. As for the actual music… There’s a lot going on, in that nuance-heavy world they inhabit, with slow drips and creeping ambience, hums and drones which expand, rumble and eddy amidst jittery electronic buzzes. Low rhythms build murkily and the pieces unfold and evolve subtly. Extraneous sings – hooting owls, insectoid scuttles, scratches and clicks, and light veils of static all contribute to providing a layered sound. At times expansive and cosmic, at others more microcosmic, there’s always something going on, not only on the surface, but beneath.

Rising tides of distortion rupture smooth soundscapes, creating waves of tension which gnaw at the nerves. ‘Rhyzome’ operates within different parameters, exploiting the tropes of classical music and film soundtrack, paired with drum ‘n’ bass, hefty beats and resonant bass sounds booming dramatically before tapering down to a hushed discomfort, while ‘Diaspora’ (one of the Fennesz tracks) introduces abstract guitar drones which evoke Sunn O))) and Earth as they simmer in a squall of needling synths and mutant saxophone, rising into something resembling a conventional progressive riff that’s finally swallowed by a black hole of noise. There are some dark, heavy passages here, which throb and pulse. Flickers of the metallic and robotic bleep and scrape against thick curtains of sound to forge a dark cybersonic sonic vista. The Kraftwerkian closer, the Breitschneider remix of ‘Sliced Reality (and a world apart from the original version which also appears here), evokes sparse, dystopian sensations.

All of the different facets of the sound are drawn together seamlessly, coalescing into something unique and engaging. And while you can’t actually dance to it, it is, without doubt, intelligent music.

 

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OZmotic Online

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