M. Ostermeier: Still
Of M. Ostermeier's 2011 album The Rules of Another Small World, Fluid Radio wrote, “A stunning collection of pieces exploring the intricacies of found sounds and electronics and the beauty of the piano in its natural state.” As it turns out, much the same could be said of the Baltimore-based composer's newest collection Still. Never perhaps has a recording been more aptly titled as this one, given its propensity for stillness and calm, and such qualities make for a richly contemplative listening experience.
Still, Ostermeier's first album in four years is also his third on Tench, the label he curates and that was founded in 2010, the year his first outing on the label, Chance Reconstruction, appeared. That artists such as Marcus Fischer, Porya Hatami, and The Green Kingdom have also appeared on Tench should immediately convey an impression of the kinds of ambient- and electro-acoustic-styled material we're talking about. Restraint, understatement, and minimalism would seem to be the principles by which Ostermeier operate: the album weighs in at a svelte thirty-six minutes, and even the track titles are minimal (as if to emphasize the point further two of them are named “Stasis” and “Inertia”). Its title notwithstanding, Still isn't an album lacking in incident. The most aggressive setting of the eight featured—to the extent that an Ostermeier track can be deemed aggressive—is “Counterpoise,” which underlays its piano splashes with waves of electronic pulsations and the percussive tapping of what sounds like a typewriter.Effecting a careful balance between electronic and acoustic elements, Ostermeier establishes in a typical moodpiece a subtle electronic foundation overtop of which light speckles of percussive noise and sprinkles of acoustic piano flutter. While the specific path a given track follows can't be predicted, nothing feels random; instead, elements are distributed with a methodical degree of precision that seems almost surgical, and the meditative music hangs in the air like incense, imbuing the environment with desaturated hues in a manner consistent with classic ambient music. In a lovely vignette such as “Hang,” the gentle brush strokes of the piano feel like warm rays of sunlight seeping into one's home during the early morning hours.