Posted on June 5th, 2015 (10:00 am) by Michael Negron

Omoh came out of nowhere. The Western-edged Colombian group, that could arguably be called a duo, trio, or quartet, simply set up a Bandcamp and called it a day. In our recent interview with Andrés Rebellón, producer and multi-instrumentalist for Omoh, he remarked that they “weren’t expecting much” to come of their debut record, St. Clara, content with leaving it a passion project built from a process of experimentation in recording and mixing – as, at the time, LA-based Rebellón and singer Sara Montoya were worlds apart – as well as songwriting. The result is an utterly breathtaking work of experimental pop that captivates as much as it challenges.

Starting humbly with a single piano line, the building mix of sounds – everything from peculiar percussive samples to subtle synths and more – flow in and out around the anchor that is Montoya’s vocals. For a pop song, “it’s only you” defies every expectation; at moments dainty and even vulnerable, with instrumentals so light and sparse it verges on a Capella, to heavier crescendos that border rock. Even then, just as you settle into its groove, it throws another curveball: rather than bring you the anthemic chorus it almost begs for, it grows quiet and leads to what can almost be called the pop equivalent of a heavily-effected gang vocal harmony.

Never, in this entire time, does it lose its flowing nature. It’s no surprise that “ocean’s feast” is the band’s quasi-single, as even the name is keen to what makes the album so remarkable. It’s often said that the process of drawing something out to its inevitable release is as important as the release itself, and Omoh knows this implicitly. Their varied use of samples, instrumentation, and styles would warrant accolades in of itself, but it’s the group’s willingness to allow the listener to absorb what is going on, to not rush to the conclusion, to let the silence reign for a moment, to allow each moment, and every piece in each moment, their own time, that allows this work to transcend into something more. This is something that many “progressive” bands say they intend to do, but Omoh packs that intensity into songs that never last much longer than five minutes without really “packing” anything. The work is the opposite of cramped: it’s vast, open, vibrant, and consistently, but not constantly, shifting.

St. Clara does more with its 21 and a half minutes than most artists do with the best of their discographies. It is unassuming, aiming only to achieve a sound that is its own, and yet it is exactly that quality that allows it to ascend past those many who do aim higher. Even in a veritable sea of moments to choose from, the moments that stand out the most are the smallest – an unintentional creaking door in “float” or a police siren at the end of “it’s only you,” the completely unexpected use of an organ in the final track, and even discovering that the final track loops seamlessly into the first, something done many times before and yet, in this context, so fitting and natural. This is obviously the record of a group finding their sound, but in doing so they’ve done so much more; Omoh has set a new high for 2015 and possibly pop music as a whole.

Track List:

  1. it's only you
  2. the seer
  3. ocean's feast
  4. both
  5. float
Omoh - St. Clara
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

86 / 100
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