Review: Alex "Omar" Smith has always come across as fairly militant in terms of his musical output, so it's still a surprise that he's chosen to celebrate the first decade of his FXHE label by putting out a series of mixes. This second installment expands on the first - released earlier this year - mixing familiar staples and scene anthems (Smith's own "It Can Be Done But Only I Can Do It") with lesser known gems. Musically, it's impressively raw, with Smith moving through a range of tough, stripped-back techno grooves and dystopian acid house gems before reaching for more melodious cuts such as the shimmering "Flying Blind" and melancholic "Three Blind Rats".
Review: Although Omar S' excellent Thank You For Letting Me Be Myself album was released on CD a few months ago, it's the deluxe vinyl version that the real "Homie's and Tender Roni's" have been waiting for. Only Omar S could get away with spreading all of its 14 tracks across 4 12"s, split into two parts, but for those yet to sample its delights, the album's superb selection of tracks more than justifies the expense; Part 1 features the superb vocal turn from L'Renee on "Rewind", the insanely feelgood house of "The Shit Baby", the experimental dubbiness of "Helter Shelter" and thick set deep house of "Amalthea".
Review: The second part of Omar S' You For Letting Me Be Myself album in vinyl form sees another 8 tracks across four sides of wax; aside from the '80s inflected sounds of the album's title track, the 303 workout of "Ready My Black Asz" finds itself with the dubbed out loops of "Messier Sixty Eight". As a bonus for those who already have the album, this part contains two vinyl exclusive tracks; the soothing deepness of "She's Sah Hero Nik" and the delayed organ weirdness of "Broken Bamalance Horn" - both more than worth the price of admission alone.
Review: FXHE has been brimming with activity in recent times, with a steadfast flurry of singles refusing to let the quality drop, and now the big bossman delivers another two slices of finely cured business in his inimitable style. The lead track is an arresting piece with just a kick to drive proceedings, leaving ample room for a haunting array of bleeps and a 'speak & spell' vocal until the track slowly ramps up with some more prominent drum programming. "Mayall II" on the flip is a less tense affair, with a cheery string refrain and old school jack-in-the-box beats disseminated in a plain and simple fashion.
Review: FXHE remain in outer orbit following that stellar Triangulum Australe 12" from Omar S, presenting their final transmission of a superb year in the shape of Oh Jabba, two tracks of stargazing house music from O B Ignitt. Last seen collaborating with Omar S on the dedication to Eddie Murphy's finest acting role, the impression that Ignitt likes his cinema is only strengthened here on the Star Wars referencing lead track with some deliciously lo fi art work of that slug like character on the inner label dispelling any possible doubt. The track itself is a wonderfully simple yet melodic house track, crunchy drum machine rhythms rippling away feverishly beneath a calming array of swooping Rhodes and Moog flourishes. Complementing this, "Space Age Stepping" is a more searching affair, relying more on the rugged drums and gurgling analogue bassline to achieve lift off.
Review: Last time it was only Omar S that could do it; this time he's thanking us for letting him be Omar S. That's right the FXHE boss returns with an eagerly awaited new album brandishing some 14 tracks. Omar S albums naturally tend to sell themselves but, for those still curious, Thank You For Letting Me Be Myself sounds like a perfectly executed culmination of the ideas AOS has explored on the numerous 12"s since his last album. As soon as the crunchy mechanical dramatics of opening track "I'll Bring U Ah Lil Sumpin Back" launch into action you feel like you're in for quite the journey and the subsequent swerves through Detroit flavoured electro, piano flecked house, beatdown and techno come with satisfaction guaranteed.
Review: By Alex "Omar" Smith's standards, "I Wanna Know" is something of a curveball. It sees him joining forces with vocalist James Garcia to lay down the sort of spine-tingling vocal house cut that would have once been associated with Chicago acts such as Fingers Inc. Admittedly, it contains plenty of far-sighted Detroit electronics and Smith's usual percussive shuffle, but there's a genuine retro-futurist feel that may take some of his fans by surprise. It's rather wonderful, all told, and sounds like a crossover anthem in waiting. Turn to the flipside and you'll find the Extramental Mix, a superb instrumental version that gives Smith's sublime melodies, vintage synths and sparkling electronics a chance to shine. Artwork of the year too!
Review: Little seems to be known about Detroit native Marc King, whose introduction to most listeners came via Rick Wilhite's 2010 compilation, Vibes: New & Rare, on Rush Hour. King is something of a veteran, and had previously released 12" singles under a variety of pseudonyms during the mid to late 1990s. Here he pops up on Omar-S's FXHE imprint with a belated debut single under his given name. There's a classic house feel about opener "Equality", which boasts bold organs, synth strings and twinkling piano solos riding a vintage groove. There's a similar mid-to-late-90s feel to the deep, bass-heavy and intoxicating "Loquious", while "Water Of Life" sees King move further towards gnarled techno territory whilst retaining his trademark melodious warmth.
Review: The main track here shows a slightly different facette of Omar S. Thirteen/Two/Eight, released on FXHE, has a handclapping, twitching beat with a quirky lively synth melody, classic italo disco and early 80 boogie sounds from a Detroit point of view. A vivid techno track and a darker ambient outing keep the quality high.
Review: With a title like Annoying Mumbling Alkaholik, you'd expect this three-tracker from the mighty Alex "Omar" Smith to be full of pent-up anger and bitter frustration. Sure, there's a raging rawness about the third track - an undulating trip into spiraling acid territory - but for the most part the EP is a beacon of simple beauty. The opening track is particularly picturesque, with beautiful, new-age influenced melodies and immersive pads riding a cymbal-heavy Detroit deep house groove. There's more Mood Hut/Future Times style synth work on the Tangerine Dream influenced "Track 2", which contrasts deep, sun-kissed melodic loops with a fuzzy drum machine groove.
Review: Despite having already released a 16 track album this year, Detroit's finest, Omar S, proves that there is quite simply nothing stopping him as he issues the four track Nelson County. "Don't Let Dis Be HapNin! Comes on like the classic "Psychotic Photosynthesis" at witnessed through a haze of smoked glass, while "U Heard What Da Man Said Muthafukka!!" is something much more driving, like taking a spin on Detroit's streets after dark in a souped up Dodge Charger, before "Nelson County" sees the tough house-focused denouement take place in a dingy backstreet club. As always with Omar S, this stuff doesn't mess about....
Review: Omar S' FXHE stable has become synonymous with trend-setting house and techno over the last ten years. Moreover, each time Alex O Smith brings about a new name to the FXHE dynasty it's always exciting news - last time around OB Ignitt was introduced to us in fine style through his Star Wars-themed brand of raw-schooled house. John FM's "Where My Roots Lie" is similarly spacey and freaked out, synth-heavy and filled to the brim with intricate Roland percussion. On the B-side, "White Churches Be Like" is the ticket, where a broken beat arrangement is diced and shredded by ice-cold snares; but "Solace" is the unexpected track on here, a slow and funked-out r&b monster in true FXHE style. Another solid missile.
Review: We're so used to Omar-S pursuing a very particular form of Detroit deep house, that when the legendary producer tries something different, it takes us by surprise. Sidetrakx Volume #3 is full of surprises. Take "Uluu", for example; while still a deep house track, its' undulating dub bassline, spaced-out soul vocal and sparse beats are pleasingly different to his traditionally rolling fare. It's mighty impressive, all told, while flipside "Another One 2 Love" almost eschews deep house completely. Instead, Alex Smith delivers a sweet, almost cute soul song built around head-nodding post hip-hop beats and sweet melodies. It, too, is hugely enjoyable, and once again proves his mastery of multiple genres.
Review: FXHE return with the master of the mysterious OB Ignitt! Arriving roughly a year on from the last slab of Ignitt goodness, Mysterious finds OB on imperious form, once more showing off his penchant for excellent track titles and singular slant on bumping Detroit business. The title track is a veritable epic of unquantifiable emotive stakes, emerging from a heat treated fog and easing into a subtle yet beguiling rhythmic framework which coaxes you into a spell that grows stronger as the track charges electrically forth. Face down, "Celestial Salacious" has that same rough edged bass line growl to it, but the skipping percussion and building layers of instrumentation give the track real energy, whilst you can almost feel the funk dripping off final track "Chocolate City" which sounds like DJ Nature hocked up on MDMA.
Omar-S - "Who Wrote The Rules Of Love" (Shadow Ray remix)
Omar-S & Kai Alce - "Jivetime"
Omar-S - "SEX"
Gunnar Wendel - "578" (Omar-S remix)
Omar-S & O B Ignitt - "Wayne County Hill Cops Part2" (Omar-S mix)
Omar-S - "Heres Your Trance Now Dance"
Omar-S - "Sarah"
Jason Fine - "Jack Yo Bodda"
Luke Hess - "Break Through"
O B Ignitt - "Oh Jabba"
Fit - "Enter The Fog" (feat Gunnar Wendal)
DJ Blend - "Eclat"
Review: It's been ten years since outspoken Detroit house legend Omar-S launched his FXHE label, which is no mean feat for a DIY label. To celebrate the fact, he's decided to put together the first in a series of mix CDs highlight the much-loved imprints vast discography. Entitled simply 1, the 74 minute vinyl only set takes an entertaining saunter through the label's bulging back catalogue, showcasing a range of well-known cuts ("Here's Your Trance, Now Dance" etc) and what the producer calls "some shit [fans] might have slept on". Predictably, it makes for a sumptuous and suitably groovy blend, moving between bespoke soulful house (Omar-S's much-loved "Sex"), deep Detroit futurism (Omar-S and O B Ignitt's "Wayne County Hill Cops Part 2"), dreamy jack tracks (Jason Fine's "Jack Yo Bodda") and tactile tech-house (Fit and Gunnar Wendel's "Enter the Fog").
Review: Despite some FXHE releases containing playful artistic references to the films that undoubtedly referenced the titles, this Romancing The Stone double pack from Omar S is sadly lacking in any MS Paint renditions of the Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner 90s vehicle of the same name. It does however contain four more fine examples of the fact no one does it quite like Omar S. Lead track "Leave" sets the tone, as ripples of percussion emerge from a pool of simmering sonic emotion and embarks on a masterclass in slow build dancefloor revelation at breakneck pace. "Romancing The Stone" pulls from the same palette of anthemic Omar S productions as "Here's Your Trance, Now Dance" and "Psychotic Photosynthesis" as a lead array of synths, keys and chords weave with supple grace over crunchy drums - watch out for the track finishing abruptly. On the second 12", "Frogs" dovetails from a simple disco guitar loop into fucked up abstract acid techno territory with little prior warning whilst "Surpass" finds AOS ending with some anthemic maximal piano house.
Review: Omar S adopts a new style for his new Side Trakx project. Detroit house meets sample based hip hop... and it really works. Possibly inspired by the passing of the late Jay Dilla, this music is perfect for relaxing and kicking back, or even warming up the early hours of the club. While Detroit hip-hop producers already proved that there's a mutual creative interaction between the cities house, techno and hip-hop scenes, it's now one of the cities hottest house producers laying down some smoked out, next level instrumentals in the vein of the late genius Jay Dilla, Madlib or Underground Resistance's Hipnotech sublabel.
Review: Six brand new shakers from Omar S...This is the sh*t! Never confined to one particular genre, Omar is again blending house, techno and even minimal styles into one big pot of deep Detroit underground funk. There's even some Basic Channel / Deep Chord vibes going on there somewhere. Simply killer.
Review: Detroit scene stalwart Tink Thomas returns with what we think is his first single under his given name since 1996. Here he showcases his sneaky remixing and re-editing skills, serving up a quartet of homemade, drum machine-driven disco revisions that have probably been staples of his DJ sets for some time. The weightiest of the bunch is bustling, redlined opener "Come On, Come On (Playa Choice Mix)", though both the Melba Moore-sampling "Dancin' (Detroit Disko Dub)" and stomping "Do It Together (Renny Raw Mix)" sound like proper peak-time workouts. The baggy-but-bouncy "Close To Me (Werk On Me Edit)" may be the best of the lot.
Review: The latest installment of Alex Omar-Smith's Side-Trakx series - long an outlet for work that doesn't fit into his usual house/techno template - is a little different to its' predecessors. For starters, it features four versions of one track: Nite Jewel collaboration "Sky Train". The full-vocal original is something of a treat; a radio-friendly fusion of dreamy deep house sounds, picturesque vocals and a smooth but undulating, Herbie Hancock-influenced groove. The superb keys-work of local jazz pianist Ian Finkelstein comes to the fore on the hazier "Chattanooga TN" and "Finkell Avenue" versions (the latter an ambient treat), with the "Texas TN" mix moving further towards jazz-funk territory.