Odd Machine - Phase In
Retro machine meditations from two German legends
Odd Machine is the occasional alias of Tobias Freund, aka tobias., reserved specifically for one-off collaborations with other musicians. Releasing on Freund's own Non Standard Productions, the project has only two releases to date: the first, a deep n' dark team-up with Ricardo Villalobos, and this curious slab, a 2009 session conducted with legendary elder statesman Uwe Schmidt.
Phase In is a pair of rhythmic mantras for two retro drum machines, specifically the pioneering sample-based Linn 9000, and the Beatles of drum boxes, the Roland TR-808. While such a dry concept could easily result in a forgettable set of club tools, in the deft hands of Freund and Schmidt, the experiment is a wildly original success.
The first track is dominated by the hefty chonk of the Linn box, swinging along in a hypnotically off-kilter 5/4 groove, and augmented with wafting pad clouds and impressionistic rhythmic filigree. The flip is pure deep space fantasy, woven from booming kicks, droning chords, and humid sub-bass. Whip-crack snares and alien clanks penetrate the cloud, demonstrating the duo's uncanny ability to craft soundscapes that are at once meditative and absolutely crammed with detail. As Freund and Schmidt are known to inhabit the more light-hearted end of the teutonic techno spectrum, each track starts with a cheeky sample from an interview to set the mood. Roger Linn himself describes the sound of his creation, while Modern Lovers / Talking Heads guitarist Jerry Harrison opines on the communicative potential of disco.
While the two artist at work here have mind-boggling discographies of uniformly high quality and wildly inconsistent taste, Phase In stands out as a self-contained, just-enough-of-a-concept album that sets a unique vibe and leaves you wanting more. The endlessly listenable, nearly 20-minute release is available for a mere €5 on Bandcamp.