Release Date: 2015 Feb 16
License: CC BY-NC-SA
Ohsaurus’s “PUng” gives the word “fusion” a new meaning by blending chiptune-influenced flourishes with hip hop beats, and keeps it all together with ambient backdrops thick enough to have even the most jaded heads bobbing.
Before I say anything else, I should mention that this record may be old news to some, as this is Fwonk*’s re-release of “PUng”; the original was on now-defunct Noecho Records. Now, with that out of the way, down to business.
While I haven’t listened too deeply into the new year of netaudio so far, I can say without question that this album will easily be my favorite for at least the next month. In one track alone (“Smiles of Venus”), Ohsaurus displays a full complement of skills: Drum work, synth programming, atmospheres and textures, and melody/harmony construction. It’s all been boiled down to almost a science, and science usually isn’t so catchy. I had to force myself to type “electronica” in the genre field of this review, as anything more specific would simply be wrong. The album pulls inspiration from a huge array of genres: chiptune, dub, downtempo, hip hop, funk, jazz, drone, illbient, house, and those are just the ones I can name without the help of a search engine.
The most difficult thing to achieve for an artist in our community tends to be consistency. Ohsaurus has no issue setting the bar high and clearing it again and again. It’s not overly complex, there are no masterworks of audio engineering using effects and compression. Tracks such as “Crossing Dreamgrove”, “The Glow Of The Screen Takes Us Away”, and “Private Landscape” all touch on a variety of themes, but maintain a well-designed, well-implemented sound, that brings to mind images of old Super-8 films, VHS tapes, and an aesthetic similar to the skweee movement that came out of Scandinavia in the late 2000s. It’s certainly not minimal, though, and the intense ambient swells that back some of these tracks (“Energy We Belong To”) offer plenty of evidence to that effect.
One lone fly in the ointment if there is one to be found is the second track on the release. “Random Research” sounds like a great concept on paper: A slow, stuttering breakbeat blended with beautifully-crafted bells and a bass line reminiscent of some of the more melodic Boards of Canada songs. Unfortunately, the production falls flat; I’m not too sure if the clipping is all that intentional, but it makes for quite the distraction. It’s still a solid piece, no doubt, but it could have been executed with a little more polish.
With the trend towards a more EDM-centric scene lately, it’s a breath of fresh air to find an artist who can still make old-school no-nonsense electronica work. This release is a stunning example of that, and I don’t use the term lightly. Fwonk* as a whole has a very solid catalog, and it runs deep, clocking in at over 150 releases. Ohsaurus certainly fits in, but “fitting in” is not the same as conforming; a unique artist produces a unique style that is second to none. No genre is exempt from the melting pot, and in this case, that’s a very good thing.