Revealing the project’s inner structure
Razing The Bar - Moritz Von Oswald Trio

The shy iconoclast behind the Moritz Von Oswald Trio reveals the project’s inner structure.

Moritz Von Oswald has just put the phone down in order to drink some coffee. Since suffering a stroke in 2008 he is struggling with the use of one arm. Imagining the phone upturned on a sofa beside him, there’s a pregnant pause in the interview.Up until this point the conversation had been dominated by discussion of ‘Fetch’, the third formal release from The Moritz von Oswald Trio. In the group Moritz conducts Max Loderbauer and Sasu Ripatti, AKA Vladislav Delay, who perform synth and percussion duties respectively. The record, released this month on Honest Jons, is littered with unexpected pulses, sporadic crashes, and light trumpet melodies all upon a bed of fleeting rhythms and minimal beats, all laid down by Moritz. It’s the trio’s darkest, and most dynamic record to date.

“If you put down something that is kind of sparse and open up some space to it, then the others can express themselves. So I was trying to create a mood on this album of something that I hadn’t felt before. It wouldn’t be an obvious emotion such as dancing, or sadness, or having tears in my eyes. So I put something down, I wouldn’t say pre-production, more like setting a scene, creating a space where I can leave room for the others to play uneven music. That’s why you’ve got tracks with really loud hits, like speaker killers. Music that you can attack in a good way.” A blueprint is constructed by Moritz before themes of the records are discussed with the players who record around his foundations.

“What I wanted to do with this project was not really to give it a club feeling, I wanted to propose something like, I wouldn’t say jazz, I don’t like saying it, but I would say with ‘jazz forthcoming’, so the recordings are a jam. It’s about improvisation and the reactions between those people playing. Fundamentally it’s about trust with the other musicians.”The Moritz von Oswald Trio treats jazz as a funny valentine - an ever present lover, humoured, respected, loved, but never taken seriously. The jazz title of the group is a joke, as too are the song-names: ‘Horizontal Structure 1-5’, ‘Pattern 1-4’, ‘Jam’, etc.

The trio’s previous records range from the cosmic and spaced out, realised by the Belize funk guitar in the opening track of ‘Horizontal Structures’, to the ‘Levitation’ of ‘Vertical Ascent’. The clues are often in the name. But for Moritz it’s about identifying what is fundamental to the track’s architecture, and that which is superfluous, whilst ensuring that it retains a certain humanity.

Were Moritz to operate within a strict genre then the resulting sounds would be those which retain the greatest symbolism. Crucially he strives for the inverse, removing any aspect that could be considered cliché, resulting in the music being quite skeletal: “Every element that you’re using, I think this is very important in what I was trying to do: reducing where single elements are gaining importance. The only thing is that I like concrete, I like modernity, and I love when things like buildings vanish throughout their age. I like shoes when they get worn out. I like music this way.”

Words by Samuel Breen

The full version of this interview appears in the August 2012 issue of Clash Magazine.

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