The enthusiast's audio webzine

M. Ostermeier – The Rules of Another Small World

M. Ostermeier
The Rules of Another Small World
Tench Records – TCH04 – 37:11

I admit it; I was first intrigued with this album because of its cover, images of an abandoned sci-fi pod-style housing project in northern San-Zhr, Taiwan taken by photographer Craig Ferguson.  Coincidentally, I had recently purchased the band Should’s sharply crafted new album “Like A Fire Without Sound” on the Words on Music label.  Little did I realize, but M. (Marc) Ostermeier is also part of Should, along with Tanya Maus & Marc’s brother, Eric.  Marc is also co-owner of the Words on Music label.  After rather experimental sampled-guitar beginnings in Austin, Texas, Should’s music has evolved into rather direct (and often very catchy), yet introspective, post-rock works sometimes classified as the “shoegazer” genre.

“The Rules of Another Small World” certainly takes some cues from Brian Eno and Harold Budd’s ambient works together and it sounds as if one is exploring the environs of what is depicted on the album’s cover.  In contrast to Should’s directness, this is music-on-the-edges of consciousness or the fringe of a dream, with great depth.  It evokes, for me, a feeling of having vivid memories without remembering all of the details, yet still being left with strong images, sounds and colors.  The album has an almost early-era Kraftwerk beginning, similar to “Kling Klang” from the 1972 album “Kraftwerk 2”.  In that work, bells, gongs and chimes of various types start and then drift into a muffled drone of flute, guitar and electric piano.

Ostermeier uses electronic and acoustic instruments (piano and possibly a vibraphone) effectively and melodically throughout with various treatments. There are ambient sounds, real and electronically created.  The recording is crystalline and broad, but not overpowering and the result is a very relaxing and sensuous exploration of an ethereal musical realm.  This is music with a direction, not free-form ambient sounds, at all.  With each subsequent listen, I hear new things and focus on different parts and counterpoints in the recordings.  Marc previously released an equally intriguing album “Chance Reconstruction” TCH01, with another beautifully decorated sleeve of black and white forest images.

Track Listing

  1. Micro Forest Updraft
  2. Streambed Arrangement
  3. Sunlight on My Desk
  4. I Took Out Your Picture
  5. Floorboards, Well-worn
  6. Trickle Down
  7. Fast Darters
  8. Underwater Drifting
  9. Retreating Night
  10. Suspicions
  11. Ngth

Primary Equipment

  • Bel Canto CD2 with onboard DAC
  • Transcriptors Hydraulic Reference TT w/ Grado Gold
  • Bottlehead Seduction Phono Preamp w/ C4S Upgrade
  • Sony XDRF1HD Tuner
  • Manley Jumbo Shrimp Preamplifier
  • Manley Mahi Mono Amps
  • ADS L-910 Studio Monitors

Alternate Equipment

  • Garrard 401 w/ custom aluminum block plinth with
  • Thomas Schick Arm w/ Benz Ace S Cartridge
  • Rega Apollo CD Player
  • Yamaha T-1 Am & FM Tuner
  • Yamaha A-1 Integrated Amplifier (Echowars restored)
  • Yamaha NS-1000 Monitors
  • Bryston 3BST Amplifier
  • Yamaha CT-7000 FM Tuner (Merrylander restored)
  • K&K TVC Stevens Billington Transformer Linestage Preamp
  • Blumenhofer FJ Om Speakers

Leave a Comment