Words by: Brandon Bouchillon | Images by: Gabrielle Campiformio
Ott :: 07.10.09 :: Stella Blue :: Asheville, NC
Ott is the Dumbledore of the deejay world. Well-traveled, world-wise, and at his best, all-knowing (at least when it comes to what his fans want to hear), he queues up magic on stage night after night for spellbound audiences. He's an international downtempo legend and resident of the Spanish countryside. And like many disc jokey heroes before him, Ott is British.
"When you hear North Carolina, you think, 'Oh Great, it's going to be all rusted pickup trucks and rednecks, but Asheville has this really nice feel, almost like home," Ott tells JamBase. "It's nice, this harmonic niche carved out right in the South. You wouldn't expect it."
It's so nice, in fact, that Ashevillians often take their scene for granted. Seventy-five or so fans were present for Ott's Friday night performance at Stella Blue. But complacency is its own punishment, as the handful of fans that did turn-up were treated to two hours of the most manic downtempo imaginable. Just as DJs like Benga and Eskmo have torn through Asheville as of late, thanks in major part to Joel Stout at Coma Gun Records, it seemed only fitting that Ott should scorch through his entire catalog, sampling both Blumenkraft and his 2008 bombshell Skylon.
In the ongoing battle to be the best under-sized venue in Asheville, contenders like Hookah Joe's, The Garage and Nashwa spar continuously. But for now, Stella Blue wears the belt. And whether she's packed to the brim or barren, when international electronic acts like Ott are in the house, Stella breathes like an iron lung cranked to 10.
Ott dropped dance floor shredders like "Splitting the Atom" and "Escape from Tulse Hell," even touching briefly upon his remixes of classic Hallucinogen tracks. While six LEDs shape-shifted into and out of every color under the sun, torrents of spotlights churned through the crowd, spinning a prismatic conga in the exaggerated furl. And as the meager audience did its best to fill the empty dance floor with fury, the highlight came in the form of "Gamma Goblins," an interstellar, otherworldly track only Ott could reproduce.
"He really is impressive. I mean anyone who can join Twisted Records and have their hand in all the madness going on over there while still turning out their own distinctive sound is a multi-tasker of the highest degree," says Nicole Vasilauskas, Asheville resident and a regular at area shows. "He's so good. A lot of people don't even know his name, but they know his work, whether they've seen him credited in the CD booklets or not."
|Ott :: 07.10 :: Asheville, NC|
Ott doesn't believe the hype, though. He deals in modesty the same way some scenesters deal in illicit goods.
"I'm not very prolific," claims Ott, ignoring the fact that he's been a part of some of electronica's most memorable releases of the last decade. Aside from working with artists like Brian Eno and The Orb (not to mention Sinead O'Connor), Ott remixed Hallucinogen to create the already legendary Hallucinogen In Dub and he worked heavily on two Shpongle releases, Nothing Lasts But Nothing Is Lost and Are You Shpongled? Taking high energy trance numbers and turning them into downtempo delicacies is Ott's specialty. And it's one he excels at, whether he'll own up to said excellence or not.
"I don't like to put out a record every year. I'm about multi-layered albums that take a few listens to comprehend, and a few more to get, then even more to really love," explains Ott in his warm British clip. "I didn't feel the need to release Skylon [2008's follow-up to 2003's Blumenkraft], in any kind of a hurry, and I think from that, people liked Blumenkraft even more." Both albums have been critically lauded as "genre-bending" and "game-changing," so the future only gets brighter from here.
Concerning his friendship with electronic visionary Simon Posford (Shpongle, Hallucinogen, Younger Brother), Ott admits that their "paths never seem to intersect anymore," as both men have found their own success. "I'm in Spain, he's in England. He's got the new Shpongle record in the works, and I'm touring through the new year. Regardless, I've got a ton of respect for Simon."
|Ott :: 07.10 :: Asheville, NC|
As far as the follow-up to Skylon, look for it around mid-2010. Ott has the album's concept in his head, but the content remains up in the air.
"Around new year's I'll finally have about six months away from the road, so that's when the new record will really get made. And although Simon and I don't have any current collaborations in the works, I've got a couple exciting new projects with people you've never even heard of, so look for that."
Regarding any future remixes of Hallucinogen, Ott says, "That was a one-time thing. And we've considered doing something downtempo with Shpongle, but it just seems wrong, and it's sort of been done. I do have a very cool remix project a la Hallucinogen In Dub in the works, though, so if you enjoyed that, you're going to love these."
When pressed about exactly who he would remix this time around, Ott played his cards close to the chest, saying "I can't reveal the name without giving it all away, but you'll know it when you see it."
A big-name remix project you say? Another re-working to rival Hallucinogen In Dub? A solo-effort on par with Blumenkraft and Skylon? If anyone can do it, Ott can, so look for a handful of new material from the self-deprecating, "not-prolific" DJ-wizard known as Ott.
Ott tour dates available here.
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