Published Mar 15, 2011Much has already been said about Moritz Von Oswald and his accomplishments over the last 20 years. Maurizio, Rhythm & Sound, Chain Reaction, Basic Channel ― for fans of serious electronic music, Von Oswald was significantly responsible for laying down the foundations upon which much of minimal techno and dubstep still stand. However, what's been most exciting as of late is just how forward thinking he continues to be. The past two years have delivered something of a mid-career hot streak and much of that revival is due to his work with the Moritz Von Oswald Trio. Consisting of Sasu Ripatti (Vladislav Delay, Luomo) and Max Loderbauer (nsi, Sun Electric), the Trio are an all-star line-up of techno producers pushing the boundaries of improvisation. Their second album together, Horizontal Structures, is looser and less overtly dub-driven than their first, at times reflecting the elemental openness of pioneering German acts like Cluster and Can, in their later years, as well as the mid-'80s dub experiments of African Head Charge. But it's the minimalism at work on all fronts that separates the Trio from their forebears, and their zest for using the mixing desk as a fourth member. The four "structures" here are deep listening, to be sure, and their seeming lack of organization means that listeners will find something different to latch onto every time.
Horizontal Structures isn't predictable. Is there a concerted effort to keep moving forward and evolving?
Von Oswald: No, it was not very much planned because the Trio are about not being very predictable, so it's more like a thing to just go into the studio and improvise on what you have and what you've done in the past playing live. We also experienced the joy of releasing this first album and then we just thought, "Okay, we'll just keep on doing it" and this is the result. It's a mixture of knowing each other really well and everybody knowing their instruments and the technical possibilities. From there, we just keep on going, but there's no special plan to do it; it's just more an open thing, like always.
How long have you known Sasu Ripatti and Max Loderbauer?
I've known Max for a long time; I've known Sasu since not as long. I've known him since his release on Chain Reaction. This was about maybe more than 15 years. I liked his way of approaching music. The first Chain Reaction record he released was very open and just something that was random, filled with thought, but easygoing. That's what I liked about it. Then I just talked to him, to get to know him a bit more, and I discovered that maybe I wanted to bring together a nice improvisation band, you know, like a project. I knew that Max is very good on modulation and designs to do this with the same approach, organic and flexible enough. The same with Sasu; we're experienced enough to just respect each other and then just go and do it, not thinking too much, let the random thing happening, because I respect the randomness a lot in studio, in playing live. I like that. Improvisation in the studio means improvisation with a desk, with a mix, with a studio, not always in playing, but more the approach to music, you know? Just let the random happen.
Brian Eno has said he enjoys collaborations at this point in his career because it forces him to be with someone else in a room who expects something of him. Do you have the same feeling about collaborations?
No, collaboration to me means a partnership on the same level. It's not to criticize the other person, just getting on with the different with these people I have in the trio now, to be flexible and open enough to work with other opinions and influence. Like a back and forth, like a game, in a way. But I wouldn't try to win this game; I just would like to enjoy playing. Like a tennis match, back and forth, not stroking, not strong enough, just being in the game and running and this kind of stuff. I put it together because I want to have this after years of collaboration, with Basic Channel, from Maurizio, from these projects, so I wanted to have the same set-up again, but differently, and that's why I put together this project.
When you had the stroke a few years ago did you ever fear that that was going to get in the way of your creative process.
No, I don't think so. It may be true, of course, but I try to keep strong.
Was the creation of music part of that keeping strong?
Yes. The main thing is training, training, millimetre by millimetre. This is what I'm like, you know? I feel strong enough to face it: the responsibility to myself, the responsibility to friends, the responsibility to my family and to music. I don't like to use music; I also like to respect music because music gave so much to me in my life that I like to give it back. This is the case. (Honest Jon's)