Artist: Omega Dub Experience
Title: The Bankruptcy Jazz
Keywords: Drum & Bass, Jungle, Jazz
Reviewer: Alex Spalding
There are some who will say that Drum n bass is dead. To those people, I say, “No.”… and I normally don’t push the matter any further. Sure, it’s not as fresh and new as it was in ’92, or the pop-cultural phenomenon it was just a few short years later. But, now that it’s properly underground again, you’ll find as with many genres that there are a lot of people carrying it’s torch, injecting the genre with new life. I was never much of a junglist, to be honest, but even I have had some forays into the sound, mostly delving into it’s sonic fringes and mutations on occasion, like Breakcore, Ragga or “Drill n Bass”, if anyone remembers that. No “jump style” for me, I’m afraid! That spirit is what has always driven jungle, I think… it never lost it’s obsessive spirit of mutation, hijacking and re-combining any other sound or style out there and assimilating it, folding it into it’s hardcore, break-intensive stratum. Jungle at first seems defined by it’s limitations (tempo, excessive Amen breakage, etc.) but even those rules are more flexible these days, as for instance with Dubstep. Another thing I always hear is how junglists are snobs, which in my opinion is not true. The real snobs listen to minimal techno or that Tresor techno-purist shite. Anyway, what was I talking about? Oh, right… this album! Omega Dub Experience puts out some really quality sounds, highly mutant and drawing influences from dub, jazz, hip hop, jungle, combining all of it into something that actually makes quite a lot of sense, and also is very awesome to listen to. This album is probably their best so far, of what I’ve heard, so I’m really excited to be sitting here right now about to talk about it.
The album starts off with ‘Resonance’. I hear some upright bass, saxophone, drums, all echoing and reverberating into space. Then a voice goes, “Bah!” and we’re thrust into a jazzy groove with some hip hop vox over the top. Smooth as silk. The vocals start to pan into different areas of the soundscape, echoing all over the place. Then, familiarly, I start to hear that telling jungle style breakbeat come up, highly resonant… we go into an Amen and there’s saxophone going nuts. Loving it! Total jazzstep. “Aah!” More vocal effect manipulations… I like the mc’s voice as it works really well with the music, but it sounds just slightly off sometimes from the rhythm, barely noticeable except that I’m sitting here with headphones on which always causes me to intensely listen to every minute detail. Ends with more of that sax!
Next up, ‘Urban Atmospheres’, drops some heavy bass with a breakbeat. The bass almost sounds like a blast of the trail of some deep gong. The vocals come in, then followed by some wild change in the atmosphere of the track. There are all kinds of strange sounds flying around, then we get some more sax, upright bass grooves. There’s a sudden pause for a moment, while spacy, resonant sounds echo out into dark while vocals come in. This track is awesome.
Then, ‘Sound Of The Waterfall’ sounds like a lofi recording of some jazzy billiard hall / bar from the 1970s or something for a moment before expanding the frequencies, introducing some sax, a plonky synth, and after a moment of anticipatory minimalism, a dense breakbeat coupled with a horn dronescape. We hear vocals float in periodically… loving the energy of this one. The breakdown that happens is really nice, a sudden dry break, bass, vocals… then it almost sounds like some kind of bass-heavy rock groove with echoing vocals, a sax that returns for a bit. Really nice!
‘Illusions’ is next, with deep, dark and mysterious samples thickening the mix into kind of an ambient soup. Then, we get a low-tempo Amen break thrown in, with some more of these echoing vocals. I like the plucked finger bass rolling around underneath the breaks. I also like a lot of the lyrics on this album, but the vocals by this point… I’m not sure about. I’m kind of on the fence, because they sound good, but sometimes are off tempo or pitch slightly, or at other times are thrown into the mix in a way that sounds a bit too repetitive, lines repeated with the exact same intonation which doesn’t work in the track as the bulk of the vocals are also unique and then a line will be repeated for a while after it first comes in. Lots of interesting textured ambient bits, though.
‘Snowflowers’ has some really nice ambient, wah-warped pads at the beginning. The vocals are great… then there’s this sort of powering down type effect that happens while saxophone plays, sounding very pretty and weird! This is a total headpiece, and when the bass ushers in the breaks I was like… yes. Loving the drum n bass sounds on this one. I hear what sounds like a chorus that comes in occasionally in the background, like “Aaagh!” and then warps out, really great. There’s some chorus string type sounds a little further in as well, jazzy sax magic. The chill styles added into this track are so nice. Heard a King Tubby name drop in there, too.
If ‘Snowflowers’ weren’t cold enough for you, the next track ‘Antarctica’ should be. Sounding like a bizarre, high-speed and repetitive sample of a wilderness as recreated by digital synthesis at first, then we get some deep, massive bass drops. Then some voice samples come in, followed by some breaks and sax, little touch of conga in there as well. I guess it’s not that cold in the mix, but it isn’t necessarily warm either. It’s very conditioned though, and humid. There’s probably a box fan someplace. The electroforest is more and more sounding like a cluster of lasers.
This is followed by ‘Blue Moon’, which has some low cello and some electronic modular undulations, tribalism lurking somewhere back there, spaceships, a hi-hat cymbal. The next section’s got some bass guitar, a more downtempo break, sax of course, and vocals that are probably among the most tight on the record with very controlled echo effects. Really low in the mix I’m hearing some kind of dirge-like ambiance, and then the strings and electronic warbling cuts back in for a bit, eventually returning to the groove.
‘Waiting For The Rain’ is the final track on the album, blasting us off with some intensely bright strings! Vocals come in for a bit, echoing into a strange whooshing resonance. The breakbeat is compressed but heavy, drops off for a bit for a bass guitar thing to happen and then comes back. The saxophone sounds light in the mix… I also hear choir harmonies far in the background. Ends like a wild, psychedelic mind explosion with more of those echoing vocals…
… wow… so much cool stuff comes out of the Sirona-Records community that it can be hard to keep track of it sometimes. If you’re looking for something really amazing, though… you might want to put The Bankruptcy Jazz by Omega Dub Experience on your download queue. It won’t take too long to download, unless maybe you’re on 56k internet. If that’s the case, I’m sorry and I feel your pain, I too was on dial-up internet just about a year ago. *kkkkrrrrrrsssshhhhh* Oh, but here’s the link: