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Concert Review/ Moritz von Oswald Trio

img  Tobias

These last five years, the Berghain, a former power station, has turned into a peculiar place and the most famous techno club in Berlin. The architecture of the building is severe and impressive: walls, dancefloor and ceiling are all made of concrete.  Unfortunately, the crowd is the only acoustic attenuation here. Which means you can't listen to (to put it this way) 'refined' music if the powerful soundsystem is used to its full potential. The set delivered by the support dj is interesting though a bit spoiled by the unprecise acoustics. The last 15 minutes uses classical music material, maybe because of the new party series' name:  'Elektroakustischer Salon'. The series, organized at the Berghain and crediting reference to 'art' music, regularly features clever and talented electronic musicians sharing a taste for daring sound experiments.
In this frame, the newly born Moritz von Oswald Trio is not a surprising guest. Along with the minimal dub wizard, the trio is made up of percussionist Vladislav Delay and modular synthesizer master Max Loderbauer. The trio's first album 'Vertical Ascent', released a few weeks ago, is assembled from various live concert excerpts. It is a shiny pearl whose brightness could only stem, you would think, from Moritz von Oswald's fine and obsessive postproduction. It's precisely this reason, though, that gets you curious to hear the trio functioning live: how do the three of them create music and interact? Well, to say the truth, everything fits to perfection.
With more people in the hall, and probably thanks to turning down the volume a bit, the sound is much clearer than before, though it is not always easy to detect who does what. Basically, Moritz von Oswald generates large waves of sound and rhythmic dub-like bass lines, Max Loderbauer creates analog sound motifs on his synth, and everything gets combined into Delay's outstanding and colourful rhythm constructions. The trio needs barely ten minutes to deliver an abnormally rich stream of sound and polyrhythm. Sooner than you thought you find yourself kidnapped by the music. Delay, often drumming barehanded on the numerous percussions, seems in a trance already, putting a spell on the audience.
It's amazing to observe such a friendly improv-feeling onstage, especially coming from Moritz von Oswald who, good news, is definitely not, or not anymore, a control freak recluse in a dark studio. After half an hour, he gives a warm happy smile (the first of a long series) to somebody almost hidden on the stage: Tikiman. So this is a quartet now, but Tikiman is not singing here, no, he is just slightly  headbanging, listening to the music and once in a while he drops a few guitar riffs. Loderbauer and von Oswald modulate the sound matter, gaze at each other, paying attention to every sound, and responding — only if necessary: nobody is showing off. As with the finest jazz trios, you feel no ego competition. The musicians here are geniuses able to create layered repeating patterns in a complex network of sounds and rhythms, just like a spider producing silken threads to form its web.
The smell of a suspicious smoke regularly fills the air among the audience, no wonder, but it is merely enhancing a feeling already induced by the music. The immersive and magic power of rhythm, like mantras, is a ticket to another state of consciousness. Only when the music stops surrounding you after 75 uninterrupted minutes do you realize how far it has taken you. The audience asks for more, but you know it is only politeness. The magic is over and you have to  land smoothly on planet Earth eventually.

By Antoine Richard

Antoine Richard is founder of „The V Sessions“, an online portal offering streaming video sessions by artists from the world of classical and contemporary composition as well as sound art.

Homepage: Vladislav Delay
Homepage: Max Loderbauer

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