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Ozmotic, "Elusive Balance"

cover image For their third album, the duo of Stanislao Lesnoj (saxophone, electronics) and SmZ (drums, electronics) work effortlessly to achieve the state described by the album title: a precarious mix of vastly differing instrumentation and genres that end up complementing one another quite effectively. The final product largely straddles that unlikely line between jazz and abstract electronica, but in a way that comes across as unique and fresh.


There might be two organic instruments listed in the credits—saxophone and drums—but the former is utilized much more alongside the electronic performances, which vary drastically from conventional synth work to dissonant, noisy textures.The title piece that opens the album exemplifies this:a bit of captured electrical interference sets the stage as the duo later meld their work into a skittering electronic sound, all of which remains rather non-organic for the most part.However, Lesnoj's saxophone soon glides into the mix, with an unabashedly jazzy tone to it, and also an organic additionThe performance is a restrained one, more restrained than I would have anticipated from a horn/electronic combination arrangement, but it works well.

The sax performance on "Pulsing" is even calmer, at times leading the song into a cyber-smooth jazz hybrid that stays on the right side of tasteful with the inclusion of lush synth strings and light metallic percussion.Similarly, "Whisper" is built largely on traditionally jazz influenced horns and what best resembles a digital vibraphone, with a bit of static-heavy, distorted production to ensure a unique final product.Electronic detritus and sax also figure heavily into the rather stripped down "Being", but the limited amount of instrumentation is produced so well as to bring out every detail of what is going on.

Ozmotic do not simply stay in this specific framework of jazz and electronics, however.For "Hum" the duo work within a nicely spacious mix, blending a mixture of twinkling synths, naturally captured bird songs and other less specific organic elements.The elongated strings and treated choirs that appear later flesh out the song even more, bolstering the organic side of the elusive balance.At first, "Lymph" has a similarly open space that leads to a lighter, more chilled out mood, but that shifts as the duo adds in multiple layers of twittering electronics and even some erratic, distorted drum beats (which could be organic or synthetic) come stammering through to give an added dimension to an already complex work.The album closer "Insecting" has the pair pushing their sound into even more distorted and slightly harsh territory.Shimmering sounds and a minimalist arrangement set the stage at the piece’s opening.Soon crackling passages and disjointed electronics blend in, giving a more chaotic and roughened edge to the composition.Eventually rich synth pads are added to the equation, contrasting the dissonant stuff with a bit more pleasant tone before ending the piece abruptly.

Elusive Balance is a fitting name for this record, because that is exactly what Ozmotic manages to strike within its seven songs.Their sound is all about equilibrium, with clean tone and distortion, organic and digital, and chaos and order all appearing equally throughout the album, sometimes all within the same single piece.Those combinations are just what makes the album so great and memorable though, because while it is a beautiful work from first listen, there are so many more facets to it that can be heard with each subsequent spin.