Ovro – Horizontal/Vertical
15/06/2009 § Leave a comment
Label: Drone Records (Germany)
Genre: Dark Ambient / Experimental
They must have a great time over at Drone Records. Not only do they get to sign some – I’ll be honest – quite decent drone and dark ambient bands, but then they get the lustrous opportunity of writing product descriptions and sending them out to reviewers. It seems that the synonym factory has been on overdrive at Drone and this 7” [technically, it came to me as a CDR] should apparently not be filed under dark ambient, experimental or even glitch, but “subconscious travel drones”. I, for one, know that this is extremely useful for a magazine like Heathen Harvest who, when overloaded with gluts of promos and demos, tearing their collective hair out about where the hell to file the next obscure release from an underground label, will be beset with glee at being able to go right to their famished “travel drone/subconscious” pigeonhole and bung the thing in there for the next eager reviewer. I managed to get to the front of the line with this one, but that’s only because I camped for two successive nights and bribed the admin with promises of Fornicator and Waco Jesus first editions.
Ovro’s Horizontal/Vertical is limited to a pressing of just 300, which is a shame because it sounds like rather a nice package. Obviously they’re trying to keep them aside for the purchasers only so I didn’t get to see they physical packing. According to sources in and around the Ovro website, the disc comes as white vinyl with handmade covers pasted with newspaper sheets and filmstrips – sounds novel indeed – and it’s good to see another label recognising the importance of physical presentation when it comes to marketing a release. Aurally, Ovro’s music falls somewhere between dark ambient music and experimental glitch, mixing drones and ambient washes with various samples. The music tends to favour the dark ambient genre more than any other, but giving it a fresher tinge than most of the dime-of-the-dozen ambient projects that come out of Scandinavia. Ovro has been hailed as ‘the wonder-girl of Finnish experimental music’, an epithet which seems to get banded about a lot but which doesn’t really mean anything. It would have been far more useful to call her “the innovator of pioneering entrepreneurial dark ambient” or something like that. Work with me here.
Ovro’s compositions are quite clearly multi-layered. “Horizontal” comprises of pulsating, washing drones brushes, punctuated by the short slap of sampled bass strings. It has a very straightforward, linear feeling of movement inside a massive, enveloping space. “Vertical” has a far more direct approach to it, generating an atmosphere of being trapped or lost inside an abandoned factory with machines and automatons clicking away close by. Ovro uses much more obvious samples here from computerised clicks and glitches to doors opening and closing somewhere in the background. In both tracks she’s careful not to bog down and sully the ambience with too much sampling, knowing when to segregate the aural sections and make them active and when to include long, pleasing sections of enigmatic ambience, leaving us desperately guessing where we’ll be taken next.
At only 12 minutes it’s easy to be slightly disillusioned by Horizontal/Vertical’s short length, but this is exactly the reason why listeners should keep coming back to it repeatedly. I don’t know about you, but more than once have I got fed up and drenched with boredom at prolix, self-indulgent ambient albums that drawl on and on for over an hour. Horizontal/Vertical is a perfect package of something relievingly different and its layers will unravel themselves exponentially the more time you give to it. With an impressive back catalogue spanning six years it’s good to see an ambient artist who can put out mature, fresh and modest releases, and this EP is no exception.