Olaf Dettinger's second and to this day last album is a continuation of his clinically aseptic and sparkling Intershop of 1999 whose coldly-cozy synthscapes and gentle crackles shimmer to this day, standing the test of time while being independent of any changing trends or rising genres. Oasis is a shorter 7-track album and much darker than Intershop – but by no means terrifying or gloomy. The atmosphere is rather mysterious and concentrated, and the focus lies on various clicks, deep loops and high-pitched synth pads which altogether allow for a new viewpoint. Whatever the title Oasis really means for Dettinger, its meaning is imperceptible to the listener, as the album lacks any cliché of deserts, waterholes and camel caravans. The mood doesn't stray far away though, making each untitled track an important, coherent part of the whole album. Don't expect meandering synth washes, for every track relies heavily on relatively short loops and an upfront, crisp sound without overt reverberations or echoey pulses.
The album starts with a terrifically strong track: Oasis 1 starts with a hazy and deeply haunting 3-note synth loop wih interwoven rhythmical clicks. Only after more than 90 seconds does the song actually progress by adding a mysteriously dark and voluminous two-note synth to the setting. Even though the setup is reduced and minimal – with only two synth loops and added clicks, and no further synth washes or surprises –, the result is curiously soothing and calming. The synths don't seem to change, but their volume is slightly altered as they become punchier or fade out at times. A strong first track that leaves Intershop behind and only connects to it via its pops and hisses. Oasis 2 is another heavily loop-based track with hectically clicking hand claps, an incisively bright but soothing synth loop that is later accompanied by a whistling melody of similar modulation and a distinctly vestigial bass line made of various low pulses and deepness. While Oasis 1 was soothing through repetition, Oasis 2 achieves this goal with the help of Far Eastern glints and mystique in its synths, despite the heavily clicking percussion in the foreground. Another winning track. Unurprisingly, Oasis 3 is next, the only overproduced track on this album that brings transcendent waves of gorgeous bliss into the album, breaking the endemic style purposefully for once. Pumping beats plus a warmly flittering synth tone are the only ingredients next to pristine percussion. This percussion is turned up a notch before an ultra-content fragment of a reverberated synth melody is introduced, all the while the synth tone continues to play in the background. Even the strange and potentially discongruent addendum of a backwards-played growling voice cannot distract from the gleaming flows of happiness. These synths are without a doubt the main attraction and bold reminiscences of Dettinger's 12" release Blond. The former mood of mystery and tranquility is broken, an while Oasis 3 is a work of utter brilliance, it doesn't fit in the surroundings, as its pompous core outshines the reduced setting of every other Oasis track (the album, not the band!). Anyway, it's a gorgeous piece and the one song to listen to, even though you'd get a wrong impression of Oasis.
The 7-minute long Oasis 4 returns to minimalism and is almost horrifically harsh after the majesty of the previous track. A constant but rather quiet pink noise stream builds the foundation upon which a minimal groove with electronic bongos and claps is built. An arcane 2-note synth is played all the time, and only the inclusion of a high-pitched percussion burst that is then played regularly for a few minutes adds a refreshing taste to the track. A perfect example of minimal, beatless electronic music that is mesmerizing due to its looped nature. The beautifully slow Oasis 5 is yet another reminder of the Blond release with equally cozy and ecclesial synth washes, but the setup remains reduced as Dettinger focuses on the clicky and dry percussion. The Ambient factor is very high, and the loop of the soothing melody isn't that obvious or short. One of my favorite Dettinger tracks that couples shimmering warmth with vivid clicks. Oasis 6 returns to darkness and glimpses of eeriness: deeply pulsating bass drops, glacial rhythmical clicks and a monotonous melody that is as foggy as it is melancholious would create a calm and dusky atmosphere if there weren't clarion break beat-like beats and percussive elements in the limelight. The golden thread of mystery is retained, though, and makes this a rumbling but also fragile inclusion to the album. The final piece Oasis 7 consists solely of trembling staccato synth chops which are angelic and tremendously positive and bright. No percussive or rhythmical elements are featured, making this a strangely reduced track. The synth loop is rich but chopped, hence being another example of minimalism.
There's no doubt about the impression of Intershop being the far superior album. It's brighter, mellower, clickier and longer. However, Oasis is equally cohesive, but focuses on darker synths, shorter and thus loopier loops and constantly clicking percussion. While all tracks are calm and soothing, only Oasis 3, 5 and 7 bring warmth and overjoyed hymnic qualities to the table, everything else resides in darker, more mysterious territory. If you aren't fond of Intershop's brightness and want a slightly darker but no horrifying album that is still heavy on the clicks, Oasis is the better choice. Its darker front cover already resembles its counterpoint nature in regard to Intershop quite well, and while the album isn't overly melodious, it inherits an inner beauty that can be brought to light by rather experienced Ambient listeners, i.e. those people who don't want to listen to thick synth washes and cozy streams of happiness all the time. However, if you consider yourself a part of this group – as am I –, pre-listen to Oasis 3 on the Kompakt website or other streaming portals and find out if it suits your need. If it does, take Oasis 5 into consideration. From there, the rest of the album isn't terribly far off.
Kompakt allows you to listen to Oasis as a whole here.
Ambient Review 049: Dettinger – Oasis (2000). Originally published on Mar.21 , 2012 at AmbientExotica.com.