In the 1990s, I recorded a lot of music onto the cassette tapes off the radio. One of the troublesome special features of recording off the radio is that the songs do not usually play from beginning to end, because the radio DJ introduces and outroduces the track. However, the tape is not to be wasted and therefore the recording button is usually pushed down as soon as the DJ starts talking. That’s why my cassettes oftentimes included one introductory sentence at the beginning and one at the end of the song. On one of the tapes that was recorded in 1995 from Radio 2 show Vibratsioon, there is a half sentence at the end of one track: „This is Out-Or, a man even a guy like Aphex Twin is curious about…”
Almost 20 years later, Out-Or is back on tape. But this time it is not recorded off the radio, but officially released by the label Lejal Globe. All the tracks can be listened to from beginning to end without being interrupted by talking DJ. The title of the work is ‘Structures’. In addition to the cassette format, the album was also released in the CD and digital format. I have repeatedly listened to this material and have thought from the very beginning that this is just the perfect work for releasing in the cassette format. Apparently, the author himself thinks that his music is just the right thing for the tape because it is not by far the first time when Out-Or has released a cassette.
Also the content that Out-Or has now released sounds as if it were created in the golden age of the cassettes, in the first half of the nineties. To be honest, I have listened to all the tracks only in digital format by now, but even in the digital format, the music sounds like as if listening to a cassette, and not because of the rustle. There’s just this nice pleasant sound. It can’t be helped – you can be open to everything new and listen to all the styles, but a human being has been built this way that the sounds heard in one’s youth are still the most loved ones and I am used to such slightly filtered cassette sound. I am sincerely glad that for some time now, it is not ashamed to make music that sounds old-fashioned. Electronic dance music has existed for so long that children of those people who once danced to this music have already grown up. And for this new generation, the old sound is not old. Or even if it is, then it’s old and interesting. Clothing trends come and go within a few months. At the same time, fortunately, there are some things – jeans or jackets, for example – that have a longer life span than one season. Out-Or is a tailor who sews sound jackets. And he uses the same fabric that was used for making clothes 20 years ago. This is not an imitation of old school made by young people. This is music that sounds like it used to be because it is made like music was made in the old days. With the same instruments that were used at that time and by the man who hadn’t had to watch YouTube videos on how to make ’90s techno. He knows because he was among the first ones who started making something like this in Estonia.
Out-Or also cannot be blamed for being stuck to some era or not being able to do anything more modern. His musical spectrum has been very wide throughout the years and in many periods he has released quite modern music. ‘Structures’ just combines the works that sound like something from the times when the author was young. Stylistically, the new album is not very even. It includes technical minimal techno, mellow and deep electronics with fewer drums, and IDM, rhythmic dance music, something pretty ambient, acid house, and more. In short, it’s a real treat for open-eared people. And all the works are very well produced. Although it seems that this is a collection of Out-Or’s recent works rather than a conceptual album, I find this approach very likeable. I recently listened to the latest album of Mr. Fingers (Larry Heard). Out-Or’s career length is almost the same. The album of Fingers was also full of different styles – a summary of everything that Heard has made throughout the decades. But his album sounded dull because I had repeatedly heard all those tricks before on his earlier albums. Somehow, ‘Structures’ sounds very fresh and interesting to me. Perhaps it is just that, unlike with Larry Heard, I have not consistently followed the doings of Out-Or or listened to his albums so many times.
One thing is for sure, Out-Or is a very unique artist at Estonian level. Always has been. He’s making music that very few are making here. However, while I was listening to the album, several parallels with foreign artists came into my mind. Unfortunately, I don’t know what was the thing with the mentioning of Aphex Twin on my cassette, but there are similarities with Aphex in some tracks (‘Eeprom’, ‘Dertwas’, ‘Dunel’). ‘Skaala 2000’ and ‘Csale 2 (Edit A)’ remind me of LFO’s work. And there is also a resemblance with one of our local Estonian artists. ‘Csale 2 (Edit B)’ uses the same or similar rhythm machine, that was, at some point, used by Ajukaja in almost every track, which makes it feel like it was the production of Raul Saaremets. Apparently, the similarities with the other musicians are also felt because of the use of the same instruments or sounds.
All in all, this is an album that I definitely recommend to buy. Being very choosy, I rarely find the albums that I would like to listen to several times from beginning to end. Cannot find them from the whole wide world, let alone from Estonia. ‘Structures’ is finally one of those albums, where almost every piece of music is a favourite one.