OTTO - Over The Top Orchestra
A living room somewhere in southern Germany. Embroidery graces the walls, a veneer side table with little chrome feet stands in front of a beige velour sofa, a minibar awaits. Pride of place goes to the electric organ which majestically occupies the centre of the room, flanked by two oversized loudspeakers. Welcome to the world of OTTO.
The duo comprising Alexander Arpeggio and Cid Hohner released their debut 12 inch single - 'Greatest Hits' - on the Dutch label Charlois in the year 2016. It sounds fresh, with abundant references to old school electronic organ music. On the cover: OTTO in bold letters above a photograph of the two musicians with a massive organ and a vase of flowers. In no time at all, the record was out of print and collectors reached deep in their pockets to secure a copy.
The recordings were made in Cid Hohner's home studio with the aid of various dusty electronic keyboard instruments, the most important of which was a home organ from the early 1980s - with integrated auto bass and rhythm patterns, of course.
In 2017 OTTO finally dragged their organs on stage to unleash their live set. A second disc (self-released) soon followed. The cover image of a German allotment garden anti-idyll under grey skies reflects the darker tone of Full Auto, the music driven forwards by a 1960s drum machine. OTTO headed for the grimy bars and stages of Europe to perform their new creations.
A third twelve inch appeared in 2018. Stimmungen was released with the support of Orgaton, the society for the promotion of organ music. The cover could be an advertisement for a debt collection agency. Inside: bewilderingly danceable rap, a beguiling ballad, smooth as silk. Once again, OTTO defined the contours of their own organ-disco genre.
And there's no stopping them now: the two-man band release their long-awaited debut album in 2019 on Bureau B. The eight tracks contain familiar OTTO ingredients, from organ sounds and rhythm presets to disco strings and the monophonic waves of a 1970s synthesizer. Arpeggio and Hohner notes add extra sharpness to the proceedings. Classics from their live repertoire sit alongside brand new numbers, invariably strange synthesizer compositions.
Looking at the cover, one might be forgiven for thinking that OTTO have finally achieved their goal of establishing themselves as a renowned wedding dance band. The track titles hint at such reveries: champagne on the red carpet, riding a noble horse, fire-eaters, the delirious morning after - OTTO offer a bouquet of hits which one cannot refuse. In their own words: "I wish it were just a dream."
1. Roter Teppich
3. Kanapee Pop
4. Schuss im Schampus
5. Hoch zu Ross
6. Feuer spucken
7. LKS 98
8. Morgen danach
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