Review: What more can be said about the output of Alex 'Omar' Smith? The Detroiter's releases have perhaps been a little more varied of late than we've come to expect, but the quality nevertheless remains dizzyingly high. This white label excursion is full of floor-friendly gems, with Smith's use of classic house samples and familiar vocal samples also making it one of his most party-hearted releases for a while. Check, for example, "Catch Ya", where a much-loved turn-of-the-'90s acapella rises above bouncy New Jersey organs and snappy machine drums. "Better Believe It Baby" brilliantly wraps a chiming synth loop and R&B style vocal snippets around a chunky, disco-fired deep house beat, while "Cheat" and "Pull Ovaa" are deliciously dusty, bass-heavy deep house workouts with just the right amount of hypnotic late night charm.
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: 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: 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: 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.
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.
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: SEX (remixes) makes for another triumphant 12" from the uber prolific FXHE stable and further smears the edges of expectation when it comes to the singular Omar S. Once again utilising the silky vocal delivery of singer L Renee, the four tracks here take divergent stylistic routes but each is magnificent. Keen listeners of Benji B's Radio 1 show will have heard the Conant Garden Posse version on a recent Big Strick guest mix, a devilishly dirty riposte to the Ghetto House aesthetic which has L Renee's vocals gliding over a snapping, raw house beat. Alongside this are two variants done in collaboration between Omar S and Aaron Fit Siegel which sound like they've been particularly inspired by soundtrack to Drive. Check the final Mack & Bewick remix for some detuned analogue nightmare set to a rippling electro beat.
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: 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: Such is the prolific nature of FXHE at the moment, which ever pressing plant Omar S uses must be pretty happy with their contract. Following swiftly from Omar S's ode to the Axel F sound comes the debut missive from Aaron "Fit" Siegel. Named so thanks to his work at the helm of Fit Distribution, Siegel is a key figure in ensuring the ongoing healthy output of Detroit's house and techno militia and "Tonite" proves to be an auspicious debut. Featuring the vocal talents of L'Renne, the track is one of those eminently soulful house tracks with a sparse approach to production, all the elements sounding so crisp and distinct in the mix but judged perfectly. Such a track and the tougher B Side Detroit Mix just demonstrate how on top of their game FXHE are right now - big tip!
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: Omar-S introduces Detroit's newest diva on the scene, Simon Black with an X-Rated 12" for the real freaky types. In line with some of the definitive vogue house tracks of the past, "I'll Do It Again" will become future ballroom staple. On the flipside, "Freaky Type" Black slows it down and steams it up with some nasty vox over a beat produced by FIT Siegel. High kicks and hand snaps all around!
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: Hot on the heels of the boastfully-titled full-length The Best comes Desert Eagle, Alex Omar Smith's first 12" of 2016. The title track is as bold and brassy as you'd expect from the Detroit producer, with swirling, minor key melodies and woozy chords complimenting swinging machine drums and a deliciously bouncy, suitably tactile synth-bass line. Arguably better is "Cry Me A River", where soulful vocal samples and wonderfully positive melody lines are expertly combined with bumpin', distorted deep house drums. Throw in some sustained note strings and a bustling bassline, and you have another guaranteed floor-filler from the FXHE boss.
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: 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: FXHE maintain their monthly heat emission for 2012, with label boss Omar S displaying all aspects of his production prowess (as well as skill for a humorous track titles) across four productions - one of which features the button bashing assistance of one Patrik Sjeren. There's something icily brilliant about the restrained "Income Tax Refund Dance" melding a dark piano riff with snapping 808 kicks and rippling lo fi rhythms which only further justifies the title of Omar S's killer 2011 LP. It's complemented by the far rowdier box jam "The White Castle Song" which jackhammers a simple yet highly flammable key riff over low rent percussion for FXHE's most potent ode to the perfect warehouse moment since the all conquering "Here's Your Trance..." Given the lack of additional info, we presume the Patrik Sjeren that produces the B Side "Untitled" track is the same Patrik Sjeren that released in the mid 90s under a multiplicity of aliases, and his contribution is every bit as incendiary as the track preceding it, whilst "3c 273" sees Omar S slip into pensive utopian electro mode with aplomb.
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: 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: 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: 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: 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.