Tuesday, 13 December 2011
Review: Ott - Skylon
I listened to Ott - Skylon due to yet more Spotify-related wranglings. I knew I wouldn't have enough minutes to listen to a full album, and so I decided to play something where it would be pretty easy to get the gist. Ott is one of those names where you pretty much know what you're going to get, so unless the album turned out to be a career high slice of genius, I could miss out one or two tracks and not regret it.
As an aside I have - finally - subscribed to Spotify and now have unlimited minutes again, so there'll be no more of this penny-pinching faffing around when it comes to selecting listening material or dodging the restrictions. I'll explain soon enough, but none of it has anything to do with Ott or Skylon.
Anyway, Ott makes ambient dub. I've heard two previous Ott albums. His "In Dub" remix album of Hallucinogen, which is a weird hybrid project. It's got Hallucinogen's name on the front but it says "mixed by Ott", and is basically an album of Ott doing his ambient dub thing to a bunch of non-classic Hallucinogen material. Very odd conceptually, but fairly standard musically. I've also apparently listened to his 2011 album Mir, but I have absolutely no memory of it whatsoever, which is starting to happen with worrying frequency at the moment and is why I started this blog in the first place. I guess it's also because Mir was probably totally forgettable.
Ambient dub, you see, is quite a well-worn concept. You can't go to a psy-trance festival or event without finding a chill-out room where some dreadlocked hippy is pumping out dub bass beneath some quirky ambient washes. It had probably been around for decades even before The Orb made the fusion uber-popular in the early '90s (albeit under the trendier moniker of "ambient house") and people like Bill Laswell have thrown out dozens and dozens of albums under countless aliases, beating the concept to death. For my money, you still can't find a better execution of the idea than those first two Orb albums (...Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld and UFOrb) but people are damned if they're going to give up trying.
Ott, as his Hallucinogen collaboration might suggest, is definitely on the psychedelic tip, but psy-dub is probably even less inventive than the other ambient dub out there. Psy-music tends towards cliché at the best of the times, and the combination of endless spliff haze and LSD trippiness results in an awful lot of music that probably sounded fantastic when the addled creators put it together, but sounds cheesy as all hell when played back sober. Skylon, to be fair, is mostly free of such stupidity. It has its nice moments, and is certainly well produced and opulent, but I really can't find anything to make this stand out from a wealth of very similar material floating around in cyber-orbit. It did chill me out nicely when I was lounging around in the living room before work, but that was probably because I was on the verge of falling asleep anyway and all it succeeded in doing was making me run late. Running to work in the rain ain't so relaxing, Ott-man.
If you look online you'll probably find a bunch of dub hippies eulogising over this record, but every psy-chill/psy-dub/ambient dub record seems to have at least three Discogs reviews jizzing all over it. Those drugs don't do wonders for the critical faculties, it seems. In my opinion, this is a very standard ambient dub album, with some nice instrumentation and some head-bobbing grooves, but there's nothing here that stands out to me. And the cover fucking sucks.
Stupid Arbitrary Rating: 6/10