Ontayso: Abstract Serie No. 05

Ontayso: Abstract Serie No. 06

In contrast to the conventional approach whereby a group releases a new full-length once a year (if that), Ontayso's ongoing Abstract Series project finds the group issuing new installments every month, or at least so it seems. Of course, listeners familiar with the group's history won't be too surprised; after all, Ontayso's the outfit responsible for the 2006-07 twenty-four-hour project that saw a separate full-length recording issued for each hour of the day (there was even a twenty-fifth hour release).

Rather than awakening from slumber and gaining in force gradually, the fifth chapter in the Abstract Series opens in full flight with an uptempo hi-hat sizzle and kick drum pulse augmented by watery chords and buckshot claps. It's an ear-catching move by the group, especially when a prototypical Ontayso piece develops with slow and purposeful deliberation. That breathless episode comes to an abrupt halt after six minutes, and from then on the recording explores multiple episodes of contrasting design and mood—windswept and brooding at one moment, gently propulsive the next. Simply put, rather than the fifth part being a single, uninterrupted journey, it instead includes numerous stopping points where, after catching its breath, the material resumes but in different directions. Throughout its fifty-four-minute run, minimal drum patterns, aqueous chords, and slow-burning synthetics meld together to form dense thickets of ambient and dub-techno sound. Thirty-five minutes in, the music takes an especially aggressive turn, jolting to attention anyone who's been lulled into unconsciousness by the trip's initial stages, before slowly dimming the lights for a sombre finish.

Picking up from the deep sea rumble with which the fifth ends, the six chapter plunges into an ocean of sweeping pads, pitter-pattering pulsations, and immense vaporous swirls. That extended ambient episode eventually gives way to an overlong plodding section that, frankly, bides its time without doing too much of anything interesting—it sounds as if Ontayso decided to let the music simply drift while they figured out where to go next—until unusual surges of clipped fractals re-capture the listener's interest halfway through the fifty-two-minute recording and set the stage for a slightly more energized final third where staccato patterns echo and hum. In brief, the sixth installment is clearly the more ambient one of the two under review; compared to the fifth, the sixth also opts for a more uniform mood and style. As before, the latest recordings arrive adorned with original paintings (in the Abstract Expressionist style) by U-cover main man Koen Lybaert that obviously would be most striking viewed at their actual size.

July 2010