Off World

Off World imagine the musical euivalent of a Dali-esque landscape on this genuinely explorative record

With a title like 2, Off World is vague in terms of its content from the start. Conceived of by Sandro Perri, Off World is a project with a startlingly alternative approach to his other collaborations such as with Canadian ‘Afrobeat’ band Glissandro 70 and as a lap-steel player for Great Lake Swimmers. When taken as a whole, 2 is genuinely explorative and Off World doesn’t use the labels ‘experimental’ or ‘conceptual’ to use drone as a limited crutch. Despite the fact that Perri and his collaborators are exploring awkward, less formulaic ground on these compositions, they manage to do so with Off World with increasing sensitivity and range of influence.

2 imagines what a soundtrack might be for a Dali-esque landscape; which in this case sounds like funk or noir film jazz or trip hop inspired themes. There is a strange combination of appearances here, which do not sound jarring or forced together for the sake of improvisation or experimentation. Such as with Nurse With Wound or Pram’s literature and film-influenced murky jams, Off World generate a mood that either has want for or is complimented by a strong surreal visual component. While Pram’s Keep in a Dry Place and Away from Children soundtrack for filmmaker Martin Davies displays clear interests in visual art, it’s not so apparent as to where Off World are getting their inspiration. 2‘s album art isn’t making any clear retrospective nods – its murky abstract cover has shapes that look vaguely like the contours of a dried out riverbed reveals no clear link between it and the music that goes with it.

2‘s opening track ‘Wet Max’ for instance is subtly surprising, completely avoiding overwhelming the listener with noise and instead provides an off-kilter, late Miles Davis ambience via a combination of eerie yet funky bass and bubbling synths. Percussion noise that seem to mimic animals encountering each other in the night emerge, providing startled accents to the composition’s jarring melody. These are the sounds of nature in a surreal or imagined setting, creating a varied picture in the mind’s eye of what might produce them.

On ‘Play Room’, there’s a confusing dissonance between the title and the sounds that go with it, after all it seems that only a supernatural playroom could emit noises that sound like hedgerows being cut back in the night, to some odd ritualistic beat. Gradually becoming more defined the sound starts to appear more like the tapping of a rainstick, with an inhuman chorus now singing over it. Equipped with the power of suggestion, Off World trusts the listener to read between the lines a little here. They play with dynamic as you would with introducing different scenes into a film – if one piece before is busy, a more subdued piece follows, taking you abruptly to a different space. 2 shows a group of artists who are still beginning to work out their range and palette, although demonstrating an unusually considerable balance of precision, cautiousness and imagination.

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