Thursday, 17 October 2013

Review: Öhm – 'Öhm'


Considering the pedigree of the two halves that make up the whole of Öhm, it's no surprise that this self-titled début album from the new project has been source of some excitement. Chris Patterson is best known for his work with acts such as Will, Front Line Assembly, Decree, Delerium, and Unit 187. While partner in crime Craig Joseph Huxtable is known for his roles in Landscape Body Machine and Noise Unit. Fate has brought these two stalwarts of the Canadian electronic scene together, and the hype is justified.

The duo's first outing is a dark yet danceable slab of dark electro permeated by old school ebm. It's sinister, subtle, but very catchy. Tracks like 'When Robots Fuck', 'Car Crash', 'Divinity', 'Destroyed In Seconds' and 'Brute' are classic sounding club tracks that make great use of dance orientated beats over mesmerising synthesizers and near surreal vocals that intermingle throughout. The band also veer off into more sublime waters with songs such as the ambient instrumentals 'Aurora' and 'My Kingdom' adding moments of introspective meditation to the track list.

There is an undeniable old school edge to the album. One that favours atmosphere and texture above the cookie-cutter club hit format. With ambient synths sitting side-by-side with more dynamic drum beats. The vocals are mostly whispered, which is a nice change for an album with such dance potential. Although when the vocals are heavily distorted, they can have a tendency to get swamped in the mix by the synthesizers. Also the album tends to remain at a pretty safe and constant pace across the ten songs, which even the somewhat more frantic sounding offerings never quite escape. It's not necessarily a bad thing with a short track list such as this, indeed it hammers home the duo's preferred style, but it may turn off more superficial listeners.

Yet for a début from a pair of artists with established reputations, the pressure was on to a certain degree. But Öhm have pulled it off with ease, giving us a solid first step on what will hopefully be a long and fruitful partnership.

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