Review: Omar S presents this remastered reissue of the 1979 album by this Singaporean disco band led by Ardo Guerzo and Jeremiah Star on his revered FXHE imprint. The name of the band is an acronym of their first names respectively. They mixed disco and salsa in their hit "Classical Salsa". They covered the Ohio Players' classic hit "Sweet Sticky Thing" and they named their 1976 released album after it. Star was also in the short lived Funkgus outfit which is worth checking out, if you can find it! A true diggers delight for those that knew it seems, but now brought to a wider audience, thankfully. Originally on Baal, a UK label founded in the mid '70s by Jay Shotam of October Cherries. The original Baal label was founded in Singapore by his band in the late '60s until it became defunct in 1980.
Review: Despite being born and raised in Detroit, Luke Hess is rarely mentioned in the same breath as his Motor City peers. Then again, his brand and dub-infused techno doesn't fit neatly into the futurist narrative. This latest full-length flips the script slightly. While it has plenty of dub-flecked moments (see "Overcome" and "Humility"), there's a greater reliance on melody over mood. While this could be a reflection of the involvement of collaborator Omar-S, it's more likely an indication of Hess's development as a producer. Moving from hypnotic deep house to robust techno via beatless interludes, Keep On is Hess's most accessible set to date.
Review: Omar S' Detroit proud FXHE now has a staunch reputation as one of those buy on sight labels for a reason. This new release by rising star John FM follows up the well-received Alone and Where My Roots Lie EPs. Starting with the soulful machine funk of "Jehks" truly capturing the sounds of the city of industry in its heyday. There's then the fine R&B jam of "Motion" somewhat reminiscent of Theo Parrish & Andrew Ashong, but it's his smooth vocal delivery which undoubtedly makes it his own! On the flip, the mysterious and melancholic Omar-S remix of "Alone" is absolutely sublime, but just wait for the tough acid fuelled groove of "Gump" which truly takes it home in right fashion.
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: A White Bear's Heaven... Is A Black Bear's Hell is something of a departure from the smooth, deep and undulating sound we've come to expect from Omar-S's FXHE label. It signals experienced producer Brian Kage's first outing for four years. While that release for Beretta Red paid tribute to atmospheric techno, this outing is far more inspired by late '80s Chicago house and acid. The standout is undoubtedly "Shut Your Eyes", a co-production with Omar-S that wraps James Garcia's soulful, heartfelt vocals around classic synth-strings, tactile stabs and pared-down, '80s style drum machine hits. He switches off the lights and signals more of a heads-down mood on the First Choice-sampling "It's Not Over" - a thrillingly tactile, synth-laden jacker - while "Bear Gonna Getcha" sounds like a warehouse anthem in waiting.
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: 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: 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.
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: 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: Alex "Omar" Smith is certainly "One of a Kind". Like fellow Detroiters Kenny Dixon Jr and Theo Parrish, he has achieved cult status amongst serious deep house heads primarily by following his own path and sticking a solitary digit towards convention. That and being seriously good at what he does, of course. He begins this latest EP in confident mood, joining the dots between vintage New Jersey garage and bouncy deep house on "Less Pain", before wrapping slipped '80s synth-pop chords around a killer (machine) percussion track. Best of all, though, is title track "One of a Kind", a luscious chunk of slowly unfurling deep house positivity rich in ear-pleasing synthesizer motifs, surging chords and rush-inducing musicality.
Review: You have to admire Alex "Omar" Smith's work rate. He's been slinging out regular releases now for the best part of a decade and shows no sign of slowing down. "1992" is his second EP of 2019 and contains a trio of contrasting cuts in his distinctive, hardware-driven sound. Perhaps the biggest surprise is closing cut "Homey Trinitron", a techno-tempo workout that wraps fuzzy, lo-fi synth motifs around weighty and distorted, ghetto-house influenced drums. He provides a chunk of loose but locked-in deep house drowsiness (see the warm, shuffling and punchy title track), as well as a cheery, piano-driven A-side that's as warm, rush-inducing and anthem-like as anything he's released to date.
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: 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: For his latest trick, Alex "Omar" Smith has crafted a killer new tune out of a distinctive gospel soul sample that he first used on much-played 2004 single "Day". Pedants will point out that "That's Me" actually uses a wider variety of sampled loops from the same source track, rather than one specific repetitive section, but either way the results are fantastic. Bumping, distorted, bass-heavy and soulful with more grunt than your average blue movie, the track is a perfect example of how highly effective, life-affirming house music can be made out of the simplest of elements suitably arranged and tweaked. Basically, it's a jazz-flecked, hands-aloft bumper that will get played at a lot of festivals this summer.
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.
Review: The more Omar S material we get onto our shelves, the better off we all are. We love him, as you probably well know. The Detroit misfit has this knack for making simple house and techno sound rich and full of soul. That's not to say that he can't lay down some roughness and, in fact, that's exactly what we love about him. This EP, in particular, is one we've been wanting for a while' it's Alex O Smith at his damn best the whole way through, providing the dirt and the shine simultaneously. "Blown Valvetrane" is an absolute beat of an EP, a classic Detroit killer with an FX-drenched percussion, a simple drum machine groove and a whole heap of supreme nastiness - an absolute winner! "Busaru Beats" is a murky, distorted monster that lays in the shadows of its more aggressive A-side sibling, and "Deep Valve Cover" provides that classic Omar S hit; a joint that'll blow your mind with its utter simplicity and shady demeanour. SICK and BACK IN.
Review: Alex "Omar" Smith has never been one for modesty, so we shouldn't be too surprised that he's called his latest full-length - his fifth in total - The Best. To be fair, he is rather good at producing high-grade deep house, and here unveils another eleven gems. Interestingly, he's recruited an impressive cast-list of collaborators and guests, including Norman Talley, Kyle Hall, OB Ignitt and, most surprisingly of all, Bristol-based Tom Bug. Highlights are plentiful, from the dusty afro and blues influences of the tribal "Chama Piru's", and hazy, Rhodes-heavy vocal cut "AhRevolution", to the hip-wigglin' disco-house influences of "Seen Was Set", and retro-futurist, Inner City style Divinity hook-up "On Your Way".
Hit It Bubba (I Want My Dadda's Rekids!!!!) (5:42)
Party Marty (5:47)
Review: The Detroit badman always delivers the goods, but he'd recently focussed on his more house-centric style thanks to a series of sleek, soulful releases. This time, he's come out all guns blazing with this new four-part killer, led by the absolutely nutty groove that is "Sink Holes" - a proper slice of Omar S acid, delivered in fine style and with his inimitable rawness. "HELL ON EARTH" is a moodier, funkier house tip with a jazzy side, while the flipside's "Hit It Bubba (I Want My Dadda's Rekids!!!!)" is a fast, upbeat house bomb with a crazy little disco sample that floats amid the grainy bass drums. "Party Marty" is a no nonsense kind of lick, pouncing away with a steady, yet unmistakably Omar S-style percussion, and a heavy bass blow. This is one hell of a way to make an appearance this early in the year - highly recommended!!
Review: Bless up Omar S! The FXHE man is always happy to repress and reissue some of his earlier records for those that missed out at the time and here he offers a welcome chance to dig into a veritable slab of label history. AOS002 is where it all began for Omar S, first released way back in 2003 as a four track 12" of tunnelling techno and deftly sampled Detroit house. It's been repressed several times over the years with more recent editions featuring a bonus untitled track deep into the B side. The limited 2015 edition now comes in three different colours; orange, red, or brown. Whichever you chose this should be considered an essential addition to your FXHE collection.
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: 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: Omar S is clearly having fun this year - the subtle euphoria of "Here's Your Trance Now Dance" was followed by a new studio album, released recently with about six days notice - and now he's popped up with a new 12" featuring Colonel Abrams on FXHE. The legendary urban crooner turns in a typically soulful vocal turn on "Who Wrote The Rules Of Love", which comes in three versions: two R&B mixes (short and long) and a remix from Shadow Ray. It's the Shadow Ray tweak that will turn on the house heads, with a beefy acid line and chopped up vocals forming the backbone of the arrangement. Those who get in quick can grab the lovely coloured vinyl version!
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!
Confess To U (The Three Stooges Of Hamtramck mix) (5:30)
Review: Alex "Omar" Smith has something he wants to get off his chest. The much-lauded Detroit producer has teamed up with re-born Italians Do It Better sorts Nite Jewel for "Confess To You", which comes in two distinctive variations. The A-side "Mix" revolves around a tactile, boogie-era synth bassline, late night AM radio synthesizer chords, drifting sax solos and a crunchy, deep house-influenced rhythm track. Arguably even better is the flipside vocal version, which naturally sees Smith, Romana Gonzalez and company deliver a near perfect chunk of '80s soul/deep house fusion. It sounds like a softly spun summer anthem in waiting. Don't take our word for it, though; check out the clips and revel in the track's breezy brilliance.