A vacant sleeve. Plain text hand stamped on the A side, a smeared impression of “ohne kommerziellen wert” on the reverse. The precedent is set for the music etched within. OHNE 001 makes the Hamburg-based label’s agenda clear - a first time release where the music does the talking. A meandering, yet tight sonic narrative suitably binds the 4 track EP. And while big room techno sits at it’s core, subtle deviations make for one thrilling ride.
Each cut is arranged by a different producer, the “o-k-w” label flexing the talent of their roster. Slight-euphoric and palette cleansing, Haiko Nahm’s Eos sets a heady rave tone. Driven by lightly stabbing synths, a warping bass kick and creeping distortion, the seeds for an emerging intensity are sown. Spiralling into darker territories, L//S follows up on the A-side with Kngbtdbsf: an erratic and fluctuating hook cuts through, aided by a rolling sub and looping, mechanical vocals.
Flipping to the B-side Valura presents Cool Cassis, a nod to the glory days of warehouse filling Trance. The mood once again guided to something more serene. A heavy kick and pulsating low-end sit juxtaposed to soundscape ambience - rising, falling, and ever-present. Lifka’s 1353 tails out the EP with a crushing acid rendition, interspersed with choir-esque respite. The pivot between light and dark fragments a familiar characteristic found throughout the release.
OHNE 001 is a certified gem for the DJ record bag, yet equally engrossing to the solitary bedroom listener. The weaving plot presents a varied dialogue that never feels too disparate; tracks are spacious and calculated whilst remaining refreshingly distinct. On the dancefloor, well-timed deployment can serve both prime time fist pumping and calm before the storm. Overall, a crucial debut that bodes well for the future.