Seth Graham and Keith Rankin, two artists who run the experimental music label Orange Milk Records out of Dayton, Ohio, have successfully created and cultivated their strange musical world. Their roster encompasses all manner of experimental artists, the only common thread being the deeply odd nature of the music. German visual artist Ervin Omsk – born Sven Fritz – released his strange, jittery debut, Peilin, on the label in 2020, and his second record, Schmalster Point, is now out. Fans of Peilin, or the Orange Milk catalog, will not be disappointed as it tends to occupy the same general feel as its predecessor wildly.
As on Peilin, Schmalster Point sees Omsk embracing the influence of artists such as Foodman, slicing and dicing electronic sounds like a mad scientist putting vaporwave in a blender. On “Gewieft wie die Koyoten”, which loosely translates to “wily as a coyote”, Omsk opens with synths, Eastern chanting, disembodied flutes, and stuttering drum machines. Omsk has described the track as being about figures or states at different states of existence, and the chopped-up nature of the music bears that out. The title song takes it further, with electronic voices exchanging alien dialog like a complex, foreign argument taking place inside an enormous machine.
True to its title, “Shifting” sees Omsk dialing down the more hyperactive elements of his music, with the chords and patches practicing a more sustained, patient tone. However, it’s no less odd than the rest of Schmalster Point; the track transfers the mood from hyperactive and gleeful to something more ominous). Meanwhile, “Leider zu hell” (loosely translated to “an unpleasant beam of light”) is almost danceable, as the succession of blips that move throughout the piece sounds like a sequencer gone slightly awry but still maintaining a steady tempo. In moments like this, Omsk fully immerses himself in an atmosphere of playfulness.
On tracks like “Standard-KO”, Omsk walks a fine line between jocularity and intensity as beats attempt to pry themselves loose from the noise, but a sense of foreboding remains strong. The sustained waves of sonic bliss that wash over the listener in the closing song, “Fehler im PDF”, suggest Omsk wrapping up Schmalster Point in a stately, almost anthemic manner, even as stuttering blasts of sound that occupy other areas of the record still make their way through the more elegant swells.
The press release states, “Omsk’s work is the epitome of seamlessly moving between clear structure and total abstraction.” On Schmalster Point, as on his debut, Ervin Omsk’s music is profoundly odd but also emotionally moving and sonically rich in a manner that befits an Orange Milk artist or anyone else who revels in richly rewarding experimental music.