Moritz von Oswald Trio – Dissent (Modern Recordings)


As we lamented in our sprawling end of year list the abundance of great music released in 2021 made it difficult to keep up. We aim to rectify that with this new summer series where we cover the music that we are ashamed to admit we never quite managed to highlight, yet have found ourselves returning to again and again.

In August Moritz von Oswald Trio returned with their first new album in 6 years and its looseness, melding jazz and electronics was really intoxicating. Other than Basic Channel pioneer and relentless innovator von Oswald, the trio comprised of Detroit’s Laurel Halo and jazz drummer Heinrich Köbberling. Halo of course is pretty well known for her techno outings so it was curious to see her inclusion in this band on some tasteful evocative keys. But I suppose when in Berlin…

You probably need to bear in mind that I hadn’t heard any of their previous 5 albums (admittedly with different lineups including the likes of Vladislav Delay and Tony Allen), but I’m not really sure it really mattered. I think what appealed the most was this loose jazzy feeling that the pieces possessed and the fact that they didn’t feel overly composed. It was less about hitting specific points or being in sync than hitting a mood and expanding upon it with no real direction in mind. It turns out I’m a huge fan of aimlessness in music. Particularly when it sounds like this. I later learned that these pieces are edits of much longer extended jams and that makes a lot of sense. It reminded me a little too of one of my favourite jazz/electronic outfits Kammerflimmer Kollektief (who are also German) in the consideration of pulses, lush keys and underlying electronics. At other times my mind wandered to Burnt Friedman’s off kilter pieces that are more interested in groove than dynamics.

I listened to this quite a lot at the time and was really drawn in by the weird relaxed wobbly jazz they were serving up. It really did feel like a band, but unlike a lot of jazz there was no interest in showing chops or grandstanding – everything was for the piece. In this sense it felt pretty egoless which really lightens the mood and allows you to sink in.

Dance music, or even dubby electronic music is ever present on the periphery but neither threatens to disturb the late night jazzy feel to much of this album. And to be fair much of this feel is due to Halo’s sublime, incredibly tasteful keys.

Ultimately it felt like music for mood. It’s such a beautiful evocative release from three incredibly skilled practitioners. Definitely the most enjoyable forward thinking jazz I heard this year.


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Bob is the features editor of Cyclic Defrost. He is also evil. You should not trust the opinions of evil people.