A regular on the Berlin circuit, Oliver Deutschmann recently made his Singapore debut at Gillman Barracks, a former colonial era army compound now serving as a hip go-to venue for the arts. I managed to catch a glimpse of him there before writing this review and he did not disappoint. His recently released full-length artist album Out of the Dark seems long overdue after a succession of releases on Vidab and Falkplatz among others. But is it worth the wait?
This Detroit influence-heavy album starts off with ‘Fever’ and its long endlessly evolving synth notes punctuated by snappy rim shots which would later on become a theme of sorts for many of the tracks that follow. One of my favourites on the album, ‘Junglo’ is a welcome surprise with a driving 3-note rhythm that etches into your mind long after the headphones come off. This track is also testament that you don’t need a breakdown in the tradition sense to keep listeners riveted.
And then we have ‘New World Order’, a serviceable number that harkens back to his early housier sounds with its ghostly 808ish claps and toms but midway descends into a cacophony of dissonant sounding basslines, chord changes and a processed voice repeating an unrecognisable mantra. Unfortunately, this feels like a track that tries to be too many things at once.
Thankfully though, ‘Sadness Descends’ displays a fair bit of Oliver’s flair for melancholy with stabby synths amidst a backdrop of what sounds like sea lions crying…Well whatever it was, it does a fine job of conveying a stark and moody atmosphere.
A curious addition is ‘Siem Reap’. This 2013 refresh of the 2007 original is more or less identical to its predecessor. Perhaps it was given extra shine and polish with new studio facilities that Oliver and long-time collaborator Tomas Svensson built that facilitated the making of this album. Bouncy rolling kicks, sharp crisp hi hats that give way to haunting bells are the results of this makeover. Clearly having the right tools at your disposal does make a difference, and none so apparent than in the track ‘Die Tief’ or ‘The Deep’ if Google translates it correct. The aforementioned snappy rim shots make a giant comeback here. Clever drum programming makes for what would seem to be a clusterfuck of drum hits into a well-orchestrated ensemble. Subby basslines catch you unawares midway through and leaves you wanting more in its wake.
‘Space Desert’ is a wonderful ode to the classic poly-synth sounds of the Jupiter and Juno immortalised in 80s sci-fi films such as Bladerunner.
‘Darkness Falls’ failed to impress though, especially with its overly loud processed vocals that first made its appearance in ‘New World Order’. ‘L.O.V.E.’ however, doesn’t manage to pick things up in spite of some impressive big rumbly kicks, there’s a weird panning of the rim shots to the right to which I never fully appreciated the purpose of but that is soon forgotten as jarring drone sounds start to fill up whatever scant space that’s left. ‘They Bleed Glitter’ fails to register any long lasting impression on me, and ends up feeling like watching the credits roll after a movie.
For what it’s worth, this album is an excellent showcase of Oliver’s deep repertoire and what Vidab as a label has to offer. It has its hits and misses but fans shouldn’t be disappointed. Also Out of the Dark – Remixes is out now featuring three of my more favored tracks on the album. Check it out.
03. New World Order
04. Sadness Descends
05. Siem Reap 2013
06. Die Tiefe
07. Space Desert
08. Darkness Falls
10. They Bleed Glitter