November 6, 2009

Ohrwert - Gaussian Skies (2009, Cism)

Ohrwert is the dub-techno project of Arjen Schat, a producer from the Netherlands who has been releasing an impressive volume of tracks over the past two years, mostly for free download via netlabels. A 12" release on the Millions Of Moments label in '08 brought some significant attention, and since then there have been a steady stream of LONG tracks and EPs released mainly on the web. The style is an homage to the classic Basic Channel/Rhythm & Sound template of the mid-to-late '90s, which, as I trace it, was refined by Rod Modell/Deepchord in the early '00s and is now being emulated by a wide array of artists to varying degrees of success, with some more recent efforts exploring fascinating new sonic territory and others sounding like tired rehashes made with cheap gear/software. Ohrwert manages to avoid the dub-techno blahs, and has a very impressive collection of hardware gear including a nice rack of Moog FX units, a Korg MS2000, Moog Little Phatty and other synthesizers, and the classic Dynacord Echocord Super tape-echo. Over the period of a year beginning of March '08, Ohrwert released a more-than-full-length collection of tracks called "Reduct", the most recent being part 9 released back in April, with each part featuring two tracks. Adding up the whole series, along with the "Lost Reduct" which can be found on, you get over three hours of free dub-techno, and most of it is really top-notch. Earlier this month, the Cism netlabel from Smolensk, Russia released a new two-track EP by Ohrwert called "Gaussian Clouds". Clocking in at over 35 minutes, the two tracks unfold at an extremely slow and graceful pace, with multiple layers of shifting and morphing synthesizer textures. "Floating Shores" starts with a heavily processed wind-like filter noisescape, slowly leading into soft ambient pads, deep bass drones and soft arpeggiations ala Kompakt's Pop Ambient, while the second track, "Transition Sphere," explores pulsing and stabbing chord textures, slowly building into a head-nodding techno thump ala Basic Channel. Ohrwert's music stands on its own as an excellent entry in the book of dub-techno, with literally hours of listening enjoyment available for free download!