Oskar Offermann: Do Pilots Still Dream of Flying?

Oskar Offermann's debut album Do Pilots Still Dream of Flying? should score the Frankfurt-born and Berlin-based DJ, producer, and label owner some serious points in the experimental house scene. While hardly groundbreaking, it's a satisfying, ten-track collection whose forty-seven minutes build a strong case for the man's talents as a music stylist, composer, arranger, and producer.

Offermann less constructs traditional verse-chorus songs than tracks whose loops and patterns gradually coalesce into densely layered set-pieces. He's got an unquestionable knack for elevating a given piece with a memorable hook or two, such as the querulous little synth figure that, joined by vocal accents, staccato claps, pulsating bass lines, and a punchy drum groove, aptly enough lifts the title track into the upper skies. A similar effect happens during “Sunlight Streaks” when a tiny string motif brightens a track that's otherwise memorable for its slinky, Rhodes-kissed groove and gravelly voiceover (which sounds suspiciously like Miles Davis). “Technicolour Dreams” likewise threads a soulful snippet by a female singer in amongst a thumping pulse whose swing grows ever more infectious, while “Felt Comfty [sic] Right Away” struts confidently into view animated by a shuffling groove.

Even something as slight as “Heading Out” ultimately wins one over for its breezy melodicism. That it does so when it plays like little more than a raw, two-chord house vamp featuring vocal lines that trail off into unintelligibility, as if Offermann was nodding off when recording them, says much about his music's basic appeal. Not everything impresses as much, however: “One Two Love,” for instance, amounts to little more than a water-treading instrumental house jam of little note. Having said that, a towering, body-moving synth-funk jam like “Believe” makes it easy to forget such lesser moments.

November 2012