Music

Various Artists: Om Lounge Vol. 6 / Sounds of Om: Third Edition

Maurice Bottomley

Various Artists

Om Lounge Vol. 6

Label: Om
US Release Date: 2002-02-19
Amazon
iTunes

Various Artists
Sounds of Om: Third Edition
(Om)
US release date: 22 January 2002

by Maurice Bottomley
various-omlounge6.jpg
:. e-mail this article
:. print this article
:. comment on this article

Over the past few years the California label Om has established a very high reputation for itself. As a purveyor of sophisticated, deep, ambient, jazzy and dub-flavoured sounds it has few rivals. Om collections were reliable, tasteful and distinctive. However, the general rise in downtempo and chill-out compilations rather robbed the label of a certain distinctiveness. Where Om led, many have followed and Om was in danger of becoming just one of the crowd. The relative weakness of Om Lounge 5 and the last Mushroom Jazz set led some to conclude that the Golden Age was over. Even the well-received Soulstice album did little to halt a suspicion that the best of Om was now in the past.

These two releases suggest that the pessimists were wrong. Interestingly, they do indicate a slight change in overall sound, as if Om too were worrying about repetition and the overly soporific. Sounds of Om is the most upbeat and straightforwardly house outing that has appeared on the label for ages, while the latest Lounge collection bears witness to America's sudden interest in the percussive, broken-beats style currently making waves in West London's more discerning clubs and bars. Both CDs are impressive and the Sounds imprint will take some dislodging from any of 2002's top 10 mix CDs.

Sounds 3 is based on a simple premise. DJ/Producer Kascade has been given the pleasant task of mixing together the best and most floor-oriented cuts from Om's 12" output in the last 18 months. It can hardly go wrong and my only quibbles concern the endless recycling of Naked Music NYC and the claim that this is the first time on CD for most of these tracks. The latter is simply not true, which does not detract from the quality of said "exclusives", but did make me think that there were more unreleased remixes here than is the case. The Naked issue is also not a real problem, but I was rather disappointed by Om's Naked Music Reconstructed set and, fine as King Kooba's remix is, "It's Love" is just too hoary a chestnut (in dance terms) to excite me afresh.

Naked Music provide the opening cut which actually pales only in comparison to what follows. Kascade's own "Gonna Make It", Andy Caldwell's "I Can't Wait" and Johnny Fiasco's "Take It" represent soulful dance at its most luxurious and elegant. We get two shots of Kascade: the slinky Ryan Raddon West Coast dub, which is much more than the filler track it usually functions as, and the Truth Be Told Mix. I think I would have preferred the bouncier original mix to the rather folky-hippy Truth one but the dub is certainly worth checking if you like that San Francisco/Miguel Migs/Chris Lum funky/spacey vibe. Andy Caldwell's "I Can't Wait" was just about the best of last years uptempo soul cuts. Relaxed yet with a pumping rhythm, this is music I travel miles to hear. It even boasts a sleazy but smooth sax solo. Johnny Fiasco is the surprise. Often dismissed as a producer of substandard recycled disco fodder, his "Take It" and the instrumental "Jazzmatic" (which pops up later on) are the album's unexpected treats.

Built round a bassline with real spring in its stride, some genuine soul singing gives "Take It" a Chez Damier or Kerri Chandler feel (old school soulful house) but with the smoother tones of Toronto or the West Coast. It is ludicrously catchy without being shallow. "Jazzmatic" is just the kind of sax-plus-beats groove that jazzhouse DJs keep in their boxes for months. Both numbers show that Fiasco is a maligned man.

More big guns fire in the shape of the two best Soulstice remixes (Fiasco's take on "Lovely" and their own reworking of "Fall"). These are already classic tracks and even though the cool-meets-coy vocals of singer Gina Rene irritate some, they do represent the essence of Om's attitude to house. Sexy, a little detached, usually floating above a lounge bossa arrangement (sax again to the fore), Rene is one of the voices of the Blue Six/French house generation of dance that Om have helped build into a global force.

Add to this some mood sustaining instrumentals and the charming vocal-led "Can't Stop" by Magnetic West and you have as effective a tour of the less sweaty side of the dance world as could be wished for. Along with Distant's Paris Live and Dmitri from Paris' After the Playboy Club, this is the cream of what already has been a good crop of deep house CDs you can dance to, 2002-style.

The Lounge set is, in it's own way even more essential. I sense that 4 Hero, Zero 7, I.G.Culture and Kaidi Tatham are going to have a big effect on the subtler American dance markets and this Om offering could have easily come out on any of London's trendier labels. The cast list is truly international, from the Italo-Austrian duo of Dzihan and Kamien to France's Rollercone, taking in England's Block 16, returning home with California's Andy Caldwell. The mood is jazzy, with those shuffling beats, drawn originally from drum'n'bass, but turned to more melodic use, to the fore. It was just what the series needed. The gentle ambience survives but, as with Naked Music's last compilation, the extra percussion has added some necessary vigour.

Obvious high spots are Block 16's late acid jazz "Find an Oasis", with the dependable Jhelisa on vocal chores, and the Caldwell, Kascade and Rollercone cuts. Lesser known acts are not overshadowed though. Who the Beard are is a mystery to me, but the atmospheric "Someday" is very classy indeed. The vibe and horns on Bartholomeus and Rubinstein's "Club Dandy Goldrush" is even better and wins out as the finest jazz piece. There are no jarring moments and no skip-button tunes at all. This means that the session can be enjoyed as a whole experience as well as for little moments of magic.

The potpourri of styles (try Mo Horizons with their reggae meets Hollywood film score fusion) ensures variety and inventiveness. The rhythms flow smoothly and guarantee continuity. If you want contemporary music that is laid-back but still exploratory, then the mixture of the chilled-out and the left-of-centre as gathered together here is a must. Ambient broken beats, nu jazz breaks and downtempo electronica all combine to deliver what is a very satisfying and substantial set.

Om have at a stroke re-established themselves as a dance label it is impossible to ignore. The funkier edge that has been injected into their penchant for superior mellowness should win them a whole new audience. The house CD will find favour with the more soul-seeking sector of the dance fraternity while the skipping beats that buoy up Lounge 5 are the very same ones currently uniting a black European scene with some cutting edge black American producers (Vikter Duplaix, for instance).

It is perhaps indicative of this trend that Philly's finest, King Britt, has signed a three album deal with the label. His brand of quirky, abstract funkiness should fit in well with the soothing but purposeful music Om seem to have decided is the way forward for them. Not that Om were on the verge of collapse, but there was the suspicion of a drift into torpor. The reversal shown here is dramatic but not traumatic. If you know both series you know something of what to expect. However, you may be surprised at the quality and the liveliness of these two essential mixes. It's a pleasant surprise, I assure you.

Music
Music

Billy Corgan Brainwashed Me: '90s Alternative Rock and the Introspective Abyss

Once in its thrall, these days I find the overriding message of '90s alt-rock especially naïve and even dangerous.

Music

Coronavirus Tunes: A Brief Playlist for Our Times of Self-Isolation

As coronavirus spreads throughout the world and many of us hunker down with online media, we offer eight songs that share our feeling of seclusion.

Music

Jennah Barry Offers Up a Warm, Sublime Collection of Memorable Tunes on 'Holiday'

Canadian indie folkster Jennah Barry returns with her long-awaited sophomore album, Holiday, which takes on a looser, more relaxed approach.

Music

Maria McKee Puts Down Her Electric Guitar and Picks up Dante on 'La Vita Nuova'

"Show Me Heaven" was another country. Maria McKee has moved to England, immersed herself in the Classics and turned away from the 21st century.

Music

PopMatters Seeks Music Critics and Essayists

If you're a smart, historically-minded music critic or essayist, let your voice be heard by the quality readership of PopMatters.

Music

Fotocrime's '80s-Inspired Rock Is Often Half-Baked

Fotocrime's South of Heaven is interesting mostly in that it's one of the most mediocre rock records I've heard in a long time.

Music

Salsa Band LPT Hints at the Genre's Future

LPT's debut album, Sin Parar, hits all the right notes for a contemporary salsa album.

Music

The Killers - "Caution" (Singles Going Steady)

The Killers go for the big hooks and singable anthems on "Caution", but opinion is sharply divided about the song's merits amongst our Singles Going Steady panel.

Books
Books

Phuc Tran's Existential Trip of a Memoir, 'Sigh, Gone'

Phuc Tran's smart, tough memoir, Sigh, Gone, might launch a broken down kid to read 150 great books—for free, at the local library.

Books

Classic Shōjo Today: Moto Hagio's 'The Poe Clan'

Moto Hagio's The Poe Clan manga series a gender-fluid melodrama marked by deep psychological trauma.

Books

John Pham's ​J​&K​​ - It's a Matter of Perspective

In J&K, John Pham explores perspectives in the psychological sense. Like Picasso, he views things from more than one angle.

Books

The American Robot: A Cultural History [By the Book]

In The American Robot, Dustin A. Abnet explores how robots have not only conceptually connected but literally embodied some of the most critical questions in modern culture, as seen in this excerpt from chapter 5 "Building the Slaves of Tomorrow", courtesy of University of Chicago Press.

Dustin A. Abnet
Film
Film

The Road to Murder in Love and War: Three Films from Claude Chabrol

The character's in Claude Chabrol's The Third Lover, Line of Demarcation, and The Champagne Murders are obsessively doubled and mirrored, reflecting and refracting their hunger for sex, love, money, and power.

Film

'Memento' Is the Movie of the Attention Economy

We are afraid of time, and so like Leonard in Memento, we kill it, compulsively and indiscriminately.

Film

What Lurks Beneath: 'Jaws' and Political Leadership in the Time of COVID-19

Boris Johnson admires the Mayor in Spielberg's Jaws. Remember him? He was the guy who wouldn't close the beaches -- and sacrifice that revenue source -- during a public crisis.

Film

'The Serpent's Egg' Marks One of Ingmar Bergman's Strangest Efforts

The Serpent's Egg bares many of the Bergman's trademark features – the suffocating auras of despair and an underdog's sense of triumph over tragedy – but falls short of a more intelligent rendering of human drama.

Recent
Music

The Killers - "Caution" (Singles Going Steady)

The Killers go for the big hooks and singable anthems on "Caution", but opinion is sharply divided about the song's merits amongst our Singles Going Steady panel.

Music

Lilly Hiatt - "Some Kind of Drug" (Singles Going Steady)

Lilly Hiatt sings about a different kind of love on "Some Kind of Drug". Hers is for a city and the impact gentrification has had its soul.

Music

There's Never Enough Time for Folk Music's James Elkington

The sometimes Wilco and Richard Thompson sideman, in-demand producer, and songwriter, James Elkington, muses on why it's taking longer than he expects to achieve more in a week than most of us get done in a lifetime.

Music

Billy Corgan Brainwashed Me: '90s Alternative Rock and the Introspective Abyss

Once in its thrall, these days I find the overriding message of '90s alt-rock especially naïve and even dangerous.

Books

Classic Shōjo Today: Moto Hagio's 'The Poe Clan'

Moto Hagio's The Poe Clan manga series a gender-fluid melodrama marked by deep psychological trauma.

Music

Salsa Band LPT Hints at the Genre's Future

LPT's debut album, Sin Parar, hits all the right notes for a contemporary salsa album.

Music

Jennah Barry Offers Up a Warm, Sublime Collection of Memorable Tunes on 'Holiday'

Canadian indie folkster Jennah Barry returns with her long-awaited sophomore album, Holiday, which takes on a looser, more relaxed approach.

Music

Fotocrime's '80s-Inspired Rock Is Often Half-Baked

Fotocrime's South of Heaven is interesting mostly in that it's one of the most mediocre rock records I've heard in a long time.

Music

Maria McKee Puts Down Her Electric Guitar and Picks up Dante on 'La Vita Nuova'

"Show Me Heaven" was another country. Maria McKee has moved to England, immersed herself in the Classics and turned away from the 21st century.

Books

Phuc Tran's Existential Trip of a Memoir, 'Sigh, Gone'

Phuc Tran's smart, tough memoir, Sigh, Gone, might launch a broken down kid to read 150 great books—for free, at the local library.

Music

Weeks Island's 'Droste' Is a New High Water Mark in Ambient Steel (EP stream) (premiere)

Lost Bayou Ramblers' Jonny Campos turns up as Weeks Island with Brian Eno/Cluster-inspired music straight from the bayou. Hear Droste in full ahead of its release on Friday.

Music

Ireland's Junk Drawer Share New Krautrock Meets Post-Punk Song, "Temporary Day" (premiere)

Junk Drawer's "Temporary Day" is a simple yet compelling video for a gripping song that shows why the band have earned such acclaim in their native Ireland.

Books

John Pham's ​J​&K​​ - It's a Matter of Perspective

In J&K, John Pham explores perspectives in the psychological sense. Like Picasso, he views things from more than one angle.

Music

Miranda Lambert - "Bluebird" (Singles Going Steady)

Miranda Lambert sings her blues the way an artist paints with them on her latest single, "Bluebird".

Music

'Stone Crush' Proves (Again) That Memphis Is Ground Zero for Soul and R&B

Stone Crush shines a light on the forgotten -- or never known -- artists that passed through the doors of Memphis' most storied studios in an attempt at just one fleeting moment of fame.

Music

Circles Around the Sun Shoot for the Stars on New Album

Jamrockers Circles Around the Sun's self-titled third album finds the band transcending darkness after losing their founder in 2019 to chart a groovy new course.

Music

Jazz's Kandace Springs Pays Tribute to 'The Women Who Raised Me'

Singer and pianist Kandace Springs tackles a dozen songs associated with her jazz vocal heroes, and the combination of simplicity and sincerity is winning.

Music

Coronavirus Tunes: A Brief Playlist for Our Times of Self-Isolation

As coronavirus spreads throughout the world and many of us hunker down with online media, we offer eight songs that share our feeling of seclusion.

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.