Many remix projects sound like after-thoughts, fairly pointless variations on the one idea. A smaller number of them bring something fresh to the original versions. Even fewer of them totally transform their source material and Ott's Hallucinogen In Dub (2002) is such a work. It is utterly mesmerising, a re-invention of great power, richness and beauty.

artist:
Ott

country of origin:
UK

style(s):
Psychedelia, ambient dub, exotic dub, global beats

decades active:
90's - 10's

essential releases:

  • Hallucinogen In Dub (2002, Twisted Records)
  • Blumenkraft (2003, Twisted Records)

Reviewed by Mike G

Jamaican dub and dancefloor trance have a strangely sympathetic relationship. Strange, because when heard separately there appears on the surface to be little in common between the genres in their purest forms, save their trippy overtones. Yet slowing down trance melodies - or at least slowing and breaking up the 4/4 rhythms that drive them - and dressing them with thick, juicy basslines and the cavernous ambience of dub can produce awesomely effective chill music. Call it ambient dub, exotic dub, or whatever you please.

UK producer Ott is a master of the style, though he also has a wide-ranging production resume including stints during the 90's as a sound engineer for Brian Eno and The Orb collaborator and producer Youth. After taking a tentative step with an outstanding composition on the Twisted Records compilation Backroom Beats (2002), he next lent his epic, highly individual production sound to a full-length remix album for psychedelic trance act Hallucinogen (aka Simon Posford, also of psychill act Shpongle).

Now, many remix projects sound like after-thoughts, fairly pointless variations on the one idea. A smaller number of them bring something fresh to the original versions. Even fewer of them totally transform their source material and Hallucinogen In Dub (2002) is such a work. It is utterly mesmerising, a re-invention of great power, richness and beauty. Ambient dub sounds are common enough on the psytrance and festival scene but with this album Ott takes it to a level where the music lives and breathes and pulses like organic life. That's no doubt due in part to his deft use of live instruments in the mix - bass, harmonica, percussion, Posford's added guitar. In his own words, "a bit off wobbly humanness can work wonders".

There's not a dud among the six tracks remixed for Hallucinogen In Dub but "Solstice" and "Angelic Particles" are particularly outstanding. "Solstice" starts gently with a lazy rhythm and sweet phrases from melodica (a kind of keyboard harmonica) before a more urgent pulse appears about halfway though, lifting the track's intensity before flooring you with a huge, filtered synth line. The ultra-slow "Angelic Particles" similarly builds gradually before gently cascading over into a luminous electric guitar arpeggio of breathtaking beauty, echoing Krautrock legends Popol Vuh's most rapturous moments. The album's production is loaded with fine details, sinking deeper into your consciousness with every listen.

Ott's second (or first "proper") solo album is the more wide-ranging Blumenkraft (2003). Except for the celestial, slow-motion swirl of the stunning opener "Jack's Cheese And Bread Snack" the psychedelic element is less overt this time. Instead world beat, reggae and electro elements assert themselves more strongly. "Splitting An Atom" samples the voices of Masi tribesman in a madly catchy rush of sweet vocals and a rousing reggae pulse. Ott's love for good tunes, spacious dub techniques and incredibly punchy bottom-end once again come to the fore, even if the album is rarely the kind of surreal, multi-coloured acid trip that is Hallucinogen In Dub.

Subsequent releases are solid but non-essential: Skylon (2008), Mir (2011) and Fairchildren (2015)  boast a production style that's as impeccable and distinctive as ever, but a sameness has crept into the melodies and dub arrangements. Even "The Queen Of All Everything" - the lovely stand-out track from Skylon - relies on overly familiar dubby psytrance signatures. These albums are for the devoted fans - newcomers are directed to his first two incredible releases.

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