Music

Various Artists: Om 100

Maurice Bottomley

Various Artists

Om 100

Label: Om
US Release Date: 2002-08-06
UK Release Date: 2002-08-26
Amazon
iTunes

One hundred releases and it's time to celebrate. One third of San Francisco's mighty triumvirate (Ubiquity and Naked Music being the other two) show that when it comes to depth, melody, soulfulness, and style -- the West Coast is now America's home of discerning dance music. Being the forward looking company they are, Om have chosen to mark the occasion with a set of previously unissued tracks -- some new, some re-mixes of recent winners. The result is two CDs of characteristically cool but stylistically diverse tunes which will keep the converted happy and, if there is any justice, will open the ears of those who, bizarrely, refuse to accept that Om and their fellow Californians are making 21st century soul of the highest order.

A quick glance at the cast (and caliber) of performers should suffice. King Kooba, Afro-Mystic, Johnny Fiasco, Pimp Rekker, Mark Grant, Kaskade, Rithma,Soulstice, Andy Caldwell, J Boogie, Ming and FS, People Under the Stairs, Scuba (King Britt), Mark Farina, John Howard, Fred Everything, West Magnetic, Landslide, and Juan Atkins. From living legends to newcomers, from innovators to the hideously under-rated -- here they are, all doing what they do best.

You want hip-hop that restores your faith in hip-hop? People Under the Stairs lead the way. In fact, hip-hop beats underpin many of the album's finer moments, for instance Ming and FS' quirky and exotic "Misdirected". Fancy some house that is deep yet immediately engaging? Try Kaskade's "I Can't Wait" or Johnny Fiasco's "Take 5". Or how about DJ/producers who still know that emotional power doesn't involve just banging it in hard? Marques Wyatt and Mark Farina are on hand. Most of all, if you want to hear this year's best soul record (that probably won't get classed as a soul record), then have a listen to Soulstice's "All Right".

That particular track will find a ready audience with UK modern soul types but should make its mark in the wider waters of urban styles. Afro-Mystic, Soulstice, and a number of other acts are making "neo-soul" that is more convincing and less retro-dependent than much of the more touted "neo" fare. A bit too fragile for R&B floors perhaps, but more substantial than the wispy imagery attached to much of this product might indicate. "All Right" is a well-written, positive song that boasts a mid-tempo groove and gorgeous female vocals. Any soul fan should immediately add it to his or her collection. That you get Afro-Mystic's Omega Brown delivering "Natural" with real attack and conviction or Pimp Rekker's conscious-funk masterpiece "In Time" on the same set should be regarded as something akin to a multiple lottery win.

As to the generic mix, one gets tired of recounting the variants of hyphenated soul, jazz, house etc. combinations that make up the music Om produce. Suffice it to say that CD one is more house-based and CD two more breakbeat-influenced. Apart from that, the whole marvelous mélange is a pluracial take on the best black music forms of recent years, all given a digital twist and a lot of care and attention. What it isn't is snoozy lounge or college-boy trip-hop. Om's reputation for blunted stupor-muzak is undeserved and their recent output has actually been decidedly lively. The most chilled-out cut is Scuba's "Beauty and Truth" which is so seductive you could stand about forty minutes in its relaxing company.

Each outing is almost similarly polished and classy. If that is a criticism in some quarters, then so be it. High production values, mellow grooves, and solid musicality still have a place in many people's hearts. Om knows this and can easily ride the slurs. Within their general remit there is a place for Juan Atkins' Techno experiments, J Boogie's cinematic dubbiness and People Under the Stairs revamped-old schoolery. Depending on your own background, you will probably be drawn either to the more soul/dance side or to the hip-hop/downtempo elements, but if you have any leanings at all to the less obvious aspects of contemporary club culture, you should be able to negotiate all 22 (unmixed) tracks without much use of the skip button.

Seven years have passed since Om's first release and this landmark. My betting is that it will be a much shorter expanse of time before we enjoy Om 200. In between, we can look forward to plentiful amounts of cool grooves and much future-facing funkiness. For now, just enjoy the wide range of aural delights impeccably served up on this very enticing menu.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.

Books

Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.

Film

'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.

Music

Bright Eyes' 'Down in the Weeds' Is a Return to Form and a Statement of Hope

Bright Eyes may not technically be emo, but they are transcendently expressive, beatifically melancholic. Down in the Weeds is just the statement of grounding that we need as a respite from the churning chaos around us.

Film

Audrey Hepburn + Rome = Grace, Class, and Beauty

William Wyler's Roman Holiday crosses the postcard genre with a hardy trope: Old World royalty seeks escape from stuffy, ritual-bound, lives for a fling with the modern world, especially with Americans.

Music

Colombia's Simón Mejía Plugs Into the Natural World on 'Mirla'

Bomba Estéreo founder Simón Mejía electrifies nature for a different kind of jungle music on his debut solo album, Mirla.

Music

The Flaming Lips Reimagine Tom Petty's Life in Oklahoma on 'American Head'

The Flaming Lips' American Head is a trip, a journey to the past that one doesn't want to return to but never wants to forget.

Music

Tim Bowness of No-Man Discusses Thematic Ambition Amongst Social Division

With the release of his seventh solo album, Late Night Laments, Tim Bowness explores global tensions and considers how musicians can best foster mutual understanding in times of social unrest.

Music

Angel Olsen Creates a 'Whole New Mess'

No one would call Angel Olsen's Whole New Mess a pretty album. It's much too stark. But there's something riveting about the way Olsen coos to herself that's soft and comforting.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Masma Dream World Go Global and Trippy on "Sundown Forest" (premiere)

Dancer, healer, musician Devi Mambouka shares the trippy "Sundown Forest", which takes listeners deep into the subconscious and onto a healing path.

Music

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" Is an Ode for Unity in Troubling Times (premiere)

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" is a gentle, prayerful tune that depicts the heart of their upcoming album, Crucible.

Music

'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.

Music

Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.

Television

Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.

Film

Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.

Music

The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.