Off World: 2

How fitting that the name Off World should call to mind Fourth World Vol. 1 - Possible Musics, the title of the hugely influential 1980 release credited to Jon Hassell and Brian Eno. For as “Wet Max,” the opening track on Off World's sophomore outing, reveals, there's considerable overlap between Hassell's and Off World's respective zones. In fact, it takes no more than five seconds for the connection to declare itself when a slithering bass pulse appears, and the association's deepened when horn-like synth smears follow, their bluster vaguely reminiscent of Hassell's trademark trumpet sound. The point shouldn't be overstated, however: while there are similarities between the projects, Off World asserts its own identity strongly as the forty-minute release advances, and one comes away from it regarding Off World as a stand-alone entity.

Though Toronto-based Sandro Perri, of Polmo Polpo and Glissandro 70 renown, might insist that Off World is a group project, he's undoubtedly its guiding force: credited with bass, drum machine, electronics, guitar, and piano, he's the only participant who appears on every track. That said, 2 is hardly a solo recording, and the contributions of others are critical to the album. Appearing alongside Perri on the release are his fellow Torontonian Lorenz Peter, Susumu Mukai, Drew Brown, Matthew Cooper (aka Eluvium), Craig Dunsmuir (Perri's Glissandro 70 partner), Brandon Hocura, and Eric Chenaux.

Many a track is undergirded by a vintage drum machine beat, a move that lends the material a decidedly ‘70s flavour. “Scrubdown,” for example, includes a lazy, almost funky drum machine groove, which proves an effective foundation for a battery of weird electronics to woozily wail alongside it. Many genre flavours emerge, kosmische music for one, thanks to its abundant electronic treatments, and dub, too, in the liberal application of echo and reverb effects. It's also fitting that one of the ten tracks is titled “Play Room,” as Perri and company, while no doubt serious about Off World, invest productions such as the quirky “Satellite Beach” with no small amount of creative abandon and playfulness.

Its space-lounge electronic dimension notwithstanding, 2 might be christened jungle music, so exotic and primal is its character. With Susumu Mukai's jittery drum machine pulse leading the charge, “Island Fanfare” suggests the kind of thing a lost tribe discovered in some remote corner of the jungle might produce were it handed a battery of old synths, drum machines, and electronic effects boxes and given a week or two to coax noises from them. It bears worth mentioning that for those who can't enough of 2's alien soundworld, a third Off World volume is scheduled to surface at some future date.

December 2017