Omar S
Fabric 45

By Rosenthal Whim

The latest mix from Fabric is with us and star of the show is the elusive Motor City resident, Omar S. Probably now part of the fourth or fifth wave in the lineage of Detroit techno artists, he is still proudly flying the flag originally raised by Mad Mike and Underground Resistance. Releasing only Detroit artists, and predominantly his own productions, his FXHE label has exploded emphatically worldwide with no conscious publicity, apart from a lack of it. The music does the talking.

To take you back, around 2004, in the true Detroit ethos originated by UR, strange, anonymous handwritten white labels emerged out of the city — no artwork, no credits, steadfastly underground. No clues apart from a catalogue number. Bridging the netherworld between house and techno the tracks were always minimal, percussive and with that highly individual and distinctive analogue feel to the production. Omar S had arrived and was to become one of the hottest and most innovative production talents around.

So on to this mix — although credited to Various Artists, it is actually solely made up of his own material. There are some juicy unreleased tracks and different edits included though — openers Polycopters and Flying Gorgars are new material, plus there’s a longer mix of his massive Day track, naggingly simple house music that really introduced his talents to a whole new set of fans. Psychotic Photosynthesis, a future Detroit techno classic which truly cemented his standing, is also included here.

The fact that this is essentially a long Omar S medley is the strength and weakness of this mix. It gives the whole a unity of sound and purpose, but also leaves it open to the accusation of occasional blandness. There are also a few tracks that to me don’t reach his usual high standard, such as the new 1 Out Of 853 Beats.

In summary, this is a brave mix for the Fabric series. Omar S’s sound isn’t for everyone — he is certainly eccentric and enigmatic and the music reflects this; sometimes strangely produced, often deep and soulful, it is always provocative and unpredictable. For me as a fan, this is a collection of his tunes, segued by simple and smooth mixing, but it never really catches alight like a true mix of records. And there are no real surprises — although he claims to not be interested in anyone’s music these days apart from his own, I would love to hear a mix of records that have influenced him. It's a worthy addition to the Fabric series but probably less important to the aficionado than to the fan who is just discovering his music.
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