M. Ostermeier – Percolate (Parvo Art, 2010)

M. Ostermeier

CDr3′ [ parvoart ] recordings parvo 010 (Germany, 01-2010)

01. Percolate
02. September Again
03. Clockwork
04. Scratchy
05. His Situation [ in Life ]
06. Continuity
07. Persuasion

Keen-eyed readers of previous [ parvoart ] press releases will have noticed that amongst references to the label producing ambient, microsound, contemporary classical and dub techno sounds, one other genre was also referred to, that – until now – has been absent from our recordings, namely the much maligned classification ‘post-rock’ much ink has been spilled over the years on this subject, in the last few years most of it bad as its current purveyors seem to be producing something that is more rock than post, ten minute epics going from silence to supernova, eschewing vocals and adding a few strings. basically the name is used to avoid using the even more hideous title ‘progressive rock’ (which in fact most of it is). once upon a time it meant (paraphrasing journalist simon reynolds via wikipedia) “the use of « rock instrumentation » for non-rock purposes but using rhythms, harmonies, melodies, timbre, and chord progressions that are not usually found in rock tradition”. it is this definition that [ parvoart ] seeks to uphold.
this has a double significance for marc osterneier, the man behind parvo 010, the mini album percolate firstly he was a member of the shoegaze/post-rock (there it is!) band should, who released a pair of albums in the late nineties. secondly, and more relevantly to this release, the maryland based musician (who moonlights as a professor at the local university) is now creating – as he puts it – “experimental and ambient compositions often built from skeletal piano melodies and augmented with electronics and acoustic recordings” that evoke ur-post-rock legends labradford in their mi media naranja and el luxo so phase, or later period harold budd, (once he’d dropped the excessive reverb and chorus effects). marc’s description is entirely accurate – percolate is filled with understated melodies played on both acoustic and rhodes piano while the electronic elements – a skeletal beat here, a pad or sample there – are used sparingly to couch the piano, not overwhelm it. and at the emotional core of the mini-album – the tracks clockwork and scratchy these elements are joined by a third – airy, melancholic, twangy guitar worthy of marc nelson, ry cooder or loren connors. and although marc’s stated aim is to create something that “evokes a melancholic stillness”, the mini-album is not monochromatic – penultimate track continuity hints at ambient techno while closer persuasion ends on a wistful, blissful / somnambulistic note, that whilst not ecstatic, seems to hint that maybe life isn’t so bad after all.

The Parvo Art label, and yes, we see what they’ve done there, are on an admirable mission to reinfuse post-rock, a tired-label reduced in some quarters to a predictable set of tropes, with it’s original meaning. The press release for M Ostermeier’s Percolate bristles against that too familiar brand of instrumental rock which oscillates almost ritually between silence and supernova, “something more rock than post.” Ostermeier himself was in the group Should, and here he looks to get back to a minimal but richly yielding sound based once more on the removal of rock solids. So the title track is almost gaseous, swirling around simple Rhodes piano figures which refuse to over-impose themselves, “September Again” is so wispy and distantly retreating it makes Harold Budd seem bang in your face, while the liquid, colourised “Persuasion” nicely offsets without rebutting, the melancholy stillness of the rest of this collection. (The Wire)

FR Mini-album sous haute influence, certes, mais Labradford étant muet depuis une éternité et Pan-American prenant son temps on ne va pas se plaindre. C’est épuisé au label (qui aura quand même mis six mois pour écouler ses 50 copies), et pas encore proposé en téléchargement via Bandcamp. Et c’est à ne pas rater, surtout.
ENG Released in an edition of 50 copies earlier this year, this is now sold-out, and not available (yet) from Bandcamp, so in the meantime here it is. Fans of Labradford and Pan-American will surely fall in love with this mini-album.

Visit Marc Ostermeier (or listen here) and [ parvoart ]

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