Otto Von Shirach Supermeng
Otto Von Shirach was always one of breakcore's and glitch's most memorable icons (which was no small feat in a genre full of big personalities). Though that scene has sort of burnt itself to a crisp, he's risen out of the ashes of the '00s with both his strange sense of humor and his bass face firmly intact, as shown both by the mix he put together for this week's XLR8R podcast and Supermeng, his new album for Modeselektor's Monkeytown imprint. In a little under 45 minutes, the latter finds the Miami-based producer peacocking his way through a trunk-rattling selection of leftfield Miami bass, dubstep, and moombahton tunes on a truly bizarre ride to the center of the sexyverse.
Latin flavors are central to everything Otto does, and this album sets the tone with "Salpica (Miami)," a spicy cutlet of 808s and Cuban slang that gives Magic Mike and DJ Laz a run for their money. This track does for Miami bass what Diplo's "Express Yourself" did for New Orleans bounce—it pays tribute to a classic genre, it boasts an infectious video, and it's designed to get all the skanky girls p-popping on the dancefloor. In fact, the best moments on this album are those that recall the 1980s in Magic City, like "Breathe the Beat," with its Kraftwerkian touches and choppy breaks, and "Supermeng," where CX Kidtronic and Mr. Feathers get all Afrika Bambaataa over a beat that will have the old-school heads pop-locking into the stratosphere.
Elsewhere, Otto proves he can make wobble basslines and Dutch squeaks good enough to comepete with the big-name rave jocks, but refuses to stick to any formulas whatsoever. "The Blob" and "Quasar" are dubstep tunes rife with the kind of talking basslines and skanking drums that Skrillex and Flux Pavilion have built careers out of, but Otto cuts into the nu-metal seriousness of it all with geeky B-movie touches, including odd samples, bleepy robot melodies, and some of his own intergalactic vocals. "Graviton," a moombahton-meets-bounce track with enough glow to rock the next rave massive, can't resist defying convention with weird breakdowns and thousands of vocal samples flying into your ears from all angles; "When Dinosaurs Rule the Earth" is an infernally bleeping, Munchi-inspired moombahton banger... about dinosaurs... with screeching digital pterodactyls in it.
Not one to leave any stone on the beach of vibes unturned, Supermeng also features some futuristic surf punk songs with an uplifting and supernatural bent. "Mind Power" is a "Hey Mickey" for a shifty sock hop on the moon, a New Agey-yet-technological update of "Rock Lobster"-era B-52s. "Ultimate Universe" is a terrific outerspace rockabilly anthem helmed by a cartoon superhero hoverboarding through the galaxy high on Adam Ant's hair gel and Nintendo power-ups—seriously, folks, this one will really get you pumped in the morning.
Supermeng is a hyperspeed cockfight—an album so frenzied and spastic and brightly colored it's hard to imagine where one might listen to it apart from a dancefloor. Overly cool and polished music for graphic designers this isn't—but its twisted art-school aesthetics might mean it's too out there for the candy kids as well. Whether or not you can rock with the Schirach, he deserves acclaim for remaining a rave provocateur, for starting weird and staying weird. In a landscape polarized between overly serious post-genres and overly obvious Beatport bangers, it's refreshing that someone is not afraid to paint outside the lines, meng.
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