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Wednesday, June 11, 2003

HIGH NOTES

NEW RELEASE

Ott: "Blumenkraft"


'Blumenkraft" is the debut album from mysterious mix maestro Ott, but to call it a "debut" is kind of like calling slugger Hideki Matsui a "rookie." Ott has spent the last 20 years behind the mixing desk as a producer and recording engineer with artists such as Sinead O'Connor, Brian Eno and The Orb. That last reference is the most telling, as Ott follows The Orb's example of creating shimmering, pulsating soundscapes that are clearly the result of sparking up enough spliffs to put England in violation of the Kyoto Protocol.

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While the original intent of dub was to shock and awe, to explode traditional reggae song structures with the judicious application of effects units and extreme mixology, it has, for the most part, ossified into rather standardized patterns: Same old bassline, off-beat guitar "chuck" and a few echo-ey Rastaman samples. Ott is one of the few artists to push dub's sonic vocabulary further. If the overall trend is to take a sleek, minimalist approach, then Ott is a cheeky maximalist. His sound is phat and layered beyond belief, with filters and echo effects spreading the elastic sounds in a wash over the digital horizon, all rendered with an unnerving clarity.

African chants ping-pong over what sounds like Pink Floyd as remixed by King Tubby, until it's sucked through a vacuum where roots riffs on organ and melodica intertwine with wah-wah guitars and acid synths. But dub isn't exactly a subtle art, and Ott clearly is at his best when showing off his arsenal of sonic surprises. He'll break a piece down to bass and drums, and then put the tweak on every damn beat, just to prove there are 1,001 ways to morph a single sound. Then, to top that, he'll push all the sound in one big rush out of your right speaker into the left. (Caution: Less hardy listeners might feel as if they're having a brain aneurysm.) The bold among you should also check out his remix work on "Hallucinogen in Dub," in which he totally reconstructs the trance psychedelia of Simon Posford (Shpongle) into a swirling galaxy of dub.



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