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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Album Review: The Omega Experiment – The Omega Experiment

Recently, a small progressive rock grenade went off on bandcamp. It happened when The Omega Experiment digitally self-released their debut album and, as word spread, Listenable Records’ interest was piqued and a deal was inked. A few months down the line and this Michigan trio are ready for lift-off with this re-released physical copy – it’s about time we gave you the lowdown on it then.

Now, what makes this one stand out about above most is the album’s general tone. It’s an upbeat pastiche of jagged strings and euphoric synths and comes with energy in abundance. At times, you’ll find yourself overwhelmed by it as unconfined joy washes over you in layers. The whole vehicle stands on the strength of its lush, interwoven vocals and recorded spoken interviews – the latter technique reminds me of those ambiguous ripped radio edits that pop up on groovy lounge albums performed by the likes of Lemon Jelly and Bombay Monkey.

Kicking us off, “Gift” hits like a twenty-foot breaker; wide as an aircraft carrier, deep as the ocean itself. The enormity of it is staggering as it echoes through euphoric builds and poppy hooks. It’s instantly reminiscent of the vast soundscapes created by musical genii like Devin Townsend and Jim Matheos (this eloquently echoes his O.S.I. project for many different reasons). Dan Wieten’s multi-tracked, subtly whining vocals search out catchy, flamboyant flourishes and harmonic peaks to really drive home each set of lyrics (all of which are kept deliberately vague to allow you to apply your own assumptions). Through the hearty emotion and crushing drums of tracks like “Stimulus” and “Bliss” they begin to bed down to a place where they echo the rich, complex structures of certain so-called ambidjent bands such as Tesseract, Vildhjarta and Chimp Spanner.

And yet, it’s only in the angrier clutches of “Furor” and “Karma”, at moments when the thudding guitar dissonance steps up to lay it on thick and heavy and the vocal becomes a disembodied roar, that they begin to really display their full potential with some mind-mangling complexity of structure and mean tech skills to boot. Hell, they’re dipping their toes in Between The Buried And Me and The Contortionist territory here. It’s the instrumentals too that offer up a chance to impress but they don’t lay themselves as bare here as expected (we have to wait until the subtle pop spin and gentle psych of “Terminus” for that to occur), but it is here that they are found a little wanting. The jokingly-titled “Tranquility”, with its infuriatingly-repetitive one-liner and cacophonous climax is a weak spot, and “Bliss” which throws two different spoken-word scripts at you, one in one ear and one in the other, turns your brain to blancmange.

It’s not just a clown of an album; it’s the complete circus. There are all sorts of high-wire antics as guitars are juggled and pounding cannons sound off to the tune of the ringmaster. There are even comedic skits where the candied synth tries, unsuccessfully, to steal the spotlight. Then, as the show draws to a close, the thumping dance euphoria of “Paramount” raises the roof and drops like the final piece in the jigsaw. Yes, you can be certain you’ve got your money’s worth with this one.

Album teaser @ their Bandcamp = http://theomegaexperiment.bandcamp.com/track/album-teaser

Review also online @ Ave Noctum = http://www.avenoctum.com/2013/01/the-omega-experiment-st-listenable-records/
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