Von Oswald's latest collaboration is with Ordo Sakhna, an outfit dedicated to the roots music of Kyrgyzstan. In some ways, it puts Von Oswald closer to Ndagga Rhythm Force, bringing echo, delay and reverb to bear on a centuries-old musical culture. Not that you can detect Von Oswald's fingerprints on the first few tracks here. They instead showcase some of the native instruments of Kyrgyzstan, among them the komuz, a lute-like instrument, and a mouth harp. We don't hear Von Oswald's presence until "Drums," whose rippling effects make the hand drums sound like giant boulders being heaved into a body of water.
The album's biggest surprise, though, is "Facets." A seething, 15-minute mind-melter, there's nothing in Von Oswald's catalogue quite like it. It recalls the Fluxus experiments of Japan's Taj Mahal Travellers in the mid '70s, the heavy dosing of echo and delay on acoustic instrumentation creating a psychoactive state in the listener. It's hard to pinpoint just how involved the Bishkek collective are here, but the way that Von Von Oswald swings a drone across the stereo field has a menace that, as the track played on, totally unmoored me from reality.
On "Bishkek, May 2016," a live cut, Von Oswald's effects feel slightly more rooted in rhythm, with the band's strings and jaw harp quivering around the bass hits. Swirls of flute give "Draught," which hews closest to Von Oswald's dub techno, an earthy feel. It's here that the two parties seem most engaged with each other, but elsewhere Von Oswald's presence can seem remote. The smaller pieces feel like slight curios. "Facets," however, should come with a warning against operating heavy machinery.