Profile: Moritz Von Oswald
Rare live show from minimal techno pioneer in association with club night Animal Farm
This Saturday sees one the most important and legendary figures in electronic music, Moritz Von Oswald, play a rare, pre-Subculture live set with Tikiman, organized jointly by Animal Farm and the Sub Club. An established percussionist for the likes of Palais Schaumberg, Holger Hiller and The Associates during the 80s, it was his dub-influenced techno productions as Basic Channel alongside Mark Ernestus in the next decade that saw Von Oswald begin gain wider recognition.
His earlier forays into the genre, as 2MB and 3MB, were Detroit-focused collaborations with Blake Baxter, Eddie ‘Flashin’ Fowlkes and Juan Atkins, artists originally brought to his home town of Berlin by friend and owner of the original Tresor club, Dimitri Hegemann. However, his passion for dub would establish itself through his relationship with the owner of the city’s Hardwax record shop, Mark Ernestus.
Their shared appreciation of the sound, in particular a passion for Jamaican-born, New York-based producer, Lloyd Barnes’ Wackies label output, led to a friendship being developed and later, the decision to forge a studio partnership, resulting in the release of a rapid succession of highly influential 12” recordings, firstly as Basic Channel and later Maurizio. Combining techno and dub elements with elaborate analogue studio and mastering techniques, they defined an inimitable and easily recognizable sound aesthetic with the likes of ‘Quadrant Dub’, ‘Phylyps Track’ and ‘Domina’ proving hugely inspirational for the likes of Richie Hawtin, Thomas Brinkmann, Robert Henke (aka Monolake), Deadbeat, Echochord and countless others.
Running concurrently with the Maurizio ‘M’ series of releases, Von Oswald and Ernestus also developed their own take on Chicago house, collaborating with vocalist Andy Caine on their Main Street offshoot label before taking a more dub-reggae-orientated path with Jamaican singer Tikiman on follow-up singles, ‘Acting Crazy’, 'Find A Way' and ‘Na Fe Throw It’.
As the 90s became the 00s he ploughed this particular musical furrow further still, establishing another imprint, Burial Mix, recording more tracks with Tikiman and other reggae artists such as Cornell Campbell, Sugar Minott and Chosen Brothers, whose Wackies release, ‘Mango Walk’ the duo twisted into the brilliant, echo and reverb-laden instrumental dub, ‘Mango Drive’.
However, with his career already seemingly characterized by its groundbreaking, evolving nature, it is perhaps of little surprise that the last five years have seen Moritz Von Oswald venture into new, previously unexplored musical territories.
No longer so closely associated with Mark Ernestus, the German has branched out to collaborate with a number of other artists, including Carl Craig, with whom he reworked music by Maurice Ravel and Modest Mussorgsky on 2008’s Recomposed, an album based on original master tapes recorded by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under conductor, Herbert von Karajan.
Von Oswald has increased his efforts to bring the previously disparate genres of classical and electronic music closer together through his mastering and sound design work on Luxembourg-born pianist, Francesco Tristano’s ‘Auricle/Bio/On' project, a relationship that has developed further, thanks to the pair joining forces with Carl Craig to combine electronic and classical instrumentation in a live setting as Shape.
His more leftfield musical leanings have not ended there. Two years ago he formed The Moritz Von Oswald Trio, consisting of Max Loderbauer on modular synthesizer, Sasu Ripatti on percussion and himself on keyboards, a response to his invitation to perform live by Berlin’s Club Transmediale Festival, the group took to the stage after only one rehearsal, a testament to the experience of the three musicians involved. Initially purely a live project, they have since gone onto release the albums’ Vertical Ascent, Horizontal Structure and a concert recording, Live In New York, taking improvisational jazz as a reference point.
Despite this involvement in classical and experimental music, Von Oswald has recently resurrected his partnership with Tikiman to once again play live sets that utilise his timeless, genre defining back catalogue of dub and techno as Basic Channel, Maurizio and Rhythm & Sound, an opportunity that proved to good to pass up for Animal Farm promoter Darren Quail: 'Moritz has been a real influence on the style of techno I listen to and play; one of the first records I ever bought was the Maurizio M5 release. I’ve always wanted to bring him to Glasgow and had originally looked into two years ago but due to his ill health it wasn’t possible. When I became aware of his availability again, it made sense for us to join forces with the Sub Club and have him play prior to Subculture. His music not only touches on dub, but also the kind Detroit techno and Chicago house the night’s been built on and it’ll be great to hear play live in such an intimate setting.'