Kickstarter-funded, Bandcamp pay-what-you-want sold, and from an artist that seems to have an effortless resonance with his audience over the social medias: you couldn’t outline a more 21st century album if you tried. Fairchildren is Ott’s fourth proper album, building on 2011′s “god was that really four years ago” Mir and taking that delicious, danceable dub to a confident and loving new level.
The drifty opening of the album A Gentle Place By Birth Is You eases into 16mm Summer Day with its bassline that has a tremendously warming effect on the cockles. Ott’s production is more polished, more organic and, somehow, more honest… It’s well honed, confident and effortlessly gazey stuff. When that familiar floaty female vocal drifts in, it feels like being home again: the sonic world Ott created with 2003′s Blumenkraft welcomes you back.
It’s this feeling that kind of sets the tone for the whole album: returning to roots, while exploring new elements. Organic instruments drop in and out (the list of performers on the album is a long one) giving Ott’s trademark sound a folky, almost Celtic vibe that it wears well. These additions scan well atop familiar sounds and patterns, and in future I hope that Ott explores this stylistic fusion-melding some more.
To top it off, let’s not forget that this now is a sound that gets this lad a lot of gigs — and as you might expect, there are flecks and flexes of big bottom end sounds that are built for large concert halls and sound systems.
Admittedly, part of this involves a flirtation or two with a style of music that I believe the kids call “dub and the steps,” and while I can’t help but feel these are of misplaced context, I’m impressed at their inventive movement and I understand that they would work great in a live environment.
Harwell Dekatron is too clever for my tastes, but I’d love to see what it does to a dancefloor appropriately inclined; give me My Name Is anyday, with its cheeky funk dribbling onto a sort of futuristic ethno disco that veers into deliciously brand new territory — I ain’t never heard nuthin like this before (guv), and this is a good thing. That four albums in, Ott can still make something that sounds like nothing else that’s come before it is impressive.
At times it comes across a little too reminiscent of itself: Coursing Batch is tough to place on this album, it the last, or the one before. It’s instantly forgiveable though, as the groove falls around you and the sheer beauty and delight of a roomful of people swaying blissfully to a single metronomic awesomeness outweighs any criticism of repetition. Likewise The Bicycle of the sky: this is Ott sounding like Ott, but when it sounds this good and is so full of soft, cocooning smiley fun, it simply doesn’t matter.
All up, this is deeply impressive stuff. It’s a grower of an album, and while it might not hang together conceptually as well as Mir, the way in which Ott fuses two cerebral hemispheres of trademark “this is Ott” with brand new, exploratory “wait, it this Ott?” is deftly impressive.
And this, we expect, is what makes Ott so enduring as an artist. He treads a perfect line between reinvention and experimentation, all the while being refreshingly down-to-earth and honest.
He never spat the dummy when his album got leaked on The Torrents, he’s never bemoaned a lack of deserved income, and he’s always engaged warmly with people that are hearing his music for the first time. And if that doesn’t add up to a physical embodiment of what “this scene” is supposed to be about, I don’t know what does.
- Release Date: 8/2015