Based in Minnesota, this quartet of electric guitars and synthesizers produces a music somewhere between trippy space rock and ambient electronica. It blends elements of ambient and drone music with something more pulsating. The existence of the group has been shaky since all members have other projects to attend to, but two albums came out so far, the 1997 Why Is That a 4? and the 2002 Face the Robot.
Keyboardist Jason Shapiro and guitarist/noise artist Paul Horn were collaborating on a piece for a performance at Intermedia Arts in September 1996. At the same time the latter was also working on drone music with guitarist/keyboardist Fred Teasley. Since both projects were approaching ambient music from different angles, he decided to bring them together and see what happened. The three of them started to write material. A month later bassist Dave Onnen was brought in and Teasley christened the quartet Blue Shift. Jason Ducklinsky jumped on board a few days before the group's debut at the first Future Perfect event (a series curated by Chris Strouth) on December 9, 1996.
In March of 1997, Blue Shift changed its name to Ousia (a term picked in Aristotle's Metaphysics) after being informed that at least two other U.S.-based bands were actively using the same name (one of them, a prog rock group from California, had just released their debut CD, Not the Future I Ordered). Around the same time, Ducklinsky bailed out. The quartet gave numerous performances in and around the state throughout 1997 and the first months of 1998, occasionally sharing the bill with Laibach, Skye Klad, Third Eye Foundation, and Windy & Carl. In September 1997 they released their first album on UltraModern. Both group and album won many end-of-year awards from the local press.
In May 1998, feeling the idea was wearing out and despite the relative success, the members decided to split after one final appearance at Future Perfect V. Horn went on to make mostly home recordings and continued to collaborate with Shapiro as Alpha 61 (a track appears on the collective Future Perfect's 2001 CD The Nature of Time). Shapiro also performs with Ana Voog and free improv percussionist Milo Fine. Onnen joined the psych-rockers Skye Klad.
Out of the blue the group reformed in 2001, resumed live activities, and released Face the Robot on Mutant Music in March 2002. Around the same time, Horn, Onnen, Skye Klad drummer Matt Zaun, Glen Jones, and Mike Croswell teamed up in the group Di Dollari. ~ François Couture