Review: Alex "Omar" Smith is certainly "One of a Kind". Like fellow Detroiters Kenny Dixon Jr and Theo Parrish, he has achieved cult status amongst serious deep house heads primarily by following his own path and sticking a solitary digit towards convention. That and being seriously good at what he does, of course. He begins this latest EP in confident mood, joining the dots between vintage New Jersey garage and bouncy deep house on "Less Pain", before wrapping slipped '80s synth-pop chords around a killer (machine) percussion track. Best of all, though, is title track "One of a Kind", a luscious chunk of slowly unfurling deep house positivity rich in ear-pleasing synthesizer motifs, surging chords and rush-inducing musicality.
Review: You have to admire Alex "Omar" Smith's work rate. He's been slinging out regular releases now for the best part of a decade and shows no sign of slowing down. "1992" is his second EP of 2019 and contains a trio of contrasting cuts in his distinctive, hardware-driven sound. Perhaps the biggest surprise is closing cut "Homey Trinitron", a techno-tempo workout that wraps fuzzy, lo-fi synth motifs around weighty and distorted, ghetto-house influenced drums. He provides a chunk of loose but locked-in deep house drowsiness (see the warm, shuffling and punchy title track), as well as a cheery, piano-driven A-side that's as warm, rush-inducing and anthem-like as anything he's released to date.
Review: Although Omar S' excellent Thank You For Letting Me Be Myself album was released on CD a few months ago, it's the deluxe vinyl version that the real "Homie's and Tender Roni's" have been waiting for. Only Omar S could get away with spreading all of its 14 tracks across 4 12"s, split into two parts, but for those yet to sample its delights, the album's superb selection of tracks more than justifies the expense; Part 1 features the superb vocal turn from L'Renee on "Rewind", the insanely feelgood house of "The Shit Baby", the experimental dubbiness of "Helter Shelter" and thick set deep house of "Amalthea".
Review: Omar S is clearly having fun this year - the subtle euphoria of "Here's Your Trance Now Dance" was followed by a new studio album, released recently with about six days notice - and now he's popped up with a new 12" featuring Colonel Abrams on FXHE. The legendary urban crooner turns in a typically soulful vocal turn on "Who Wrote The Rules Of Love", which comes in three versions: two R&B mixes (short and long) and a remix from Shadow Ray. It's the Shadow Ray tweak that will turn on the house heads, with a beefy acid line and chopped up vocals forming the backbone of the arrangement. Those who get in quick can grab the lovely coloured vinyl version!
Review: The main track here shows a slightly different facette of Omar S. Thirteen/Two/Eight, released on FXHE, has a handclapping, twitching beat with a quirky lively synth melody, classic italo disco and early 80 boogie sounds from a Detroit point of view. A vivid techno track and a darker ambient outing keep the quality high.
Review: Bless up Omar S! The FXHE man is always happy to repress and reissue some of his earlier records for those that missed out at the time and here he offers a welcome chance to dig into a veritable slab of label history. AOS002 is where it all began for Omar S, first released way back in 2003 as a four track 12" of tunnelling techno and deftly sampled Detroit house. It's been repressed several times over the years with more recent editions featuring a bonus untitled track deep into the B side. The limited 2015 edition now comes in three different colours; orange, red, or brown. Whichever you chose this should be considered an essential addition to your FXHE collection.
Review: Omar-S introduces Detroit's newest diva on the scene, Simon Black with an X-Rated 12" for the real freaky types. In line with some of the definitive vogue house tracks of the past, "I'll Do It Again" will become future ballroom staple. On the flipside, "Freaky Type" Black slows it down and steams it up with some nasty vox over a beat produced by FIT Siegel. High kicks and hand snaps all around!
Review: For his latest trick, Alex "Omar" Smith has crafted a killer new tune out of a distinctive gospel soul sample that he first used on much-played 2004 single "Day". Pedants will point out that "That's Me" actually uses a wider variety of sampled loops from the same source track, rather than one specific repetitive section, but either way the results are fantastic. Bumping, distorted, bass-heavy and soulful with more grunt than your average blue movie, the track is a perfect example of how highly effective, life-affirming house music can be made out of the simplest of elements suitably arranged and tweaked. Basically, it's a jazz-flecked, hands-aloft bumper that will get played at a lot of festivals this summer.
Omar-S - "Who Wrote The Rules Of Love" (Shadow Ray remix)
Omar-S & Kai Alce - "Jivetime"
Omar-S - "SEX"
Gunnar Wendel - "578" (Omar-S remix)
Omar-S & O B Ignitt - "Wayne County Hill Cops Part2" (Omar-S mix)
Omar-S - "Heres Your Trance Now Dance"
Omar-S - "Sarah"
Jason Fine - "Jack Yo Bodda"
Luke Hess - "Break Through"
O B Ignitt - "Oh Jabba"
Fit - "Enter The Fog" (feat Gunnar Wendal)
DJ Blend - "Eclat"
Review: It's been ten years since outspoken Detroit house legend Omar-S launched his FXHE label, which is no mean feat for a DIY label. To celebrate the fact, he's decided to put together the first in a series of mix CDs highlight the much-loved imprints vast discography. Entitled simply 1, the 74 minute vinyl only set takes an entertaining saunter through the label's bulging back catalogue, showcasing a range of well-known cuts ("Here's Your Trance, Now Dance" etc) and what the producer calls "some shit [fans] might have slept on". Predictably, it makes for a sumptuous and suitably groovy blend, moving between bespoke soulful house (Omar-S's much-loved "Sex"), deep Detroit futurism (Omar-S and O B Ignitt's "Wayne County Hill Cops Part 2"), dreamy jack tracks (Jason Fine's "Jack Yo Bodda") and tactile tech-house (Fit and Gunnar Wendel's "Enter the Fog").
Review: Despite some FXHE releases containing playful artistic references to the films that undoubtedly referenced the titles, this Romancing The Stone double pack from Omar S is sadly lacking in any MS Paint renditions of the Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner 90s vehicle of the same name. It does however contain four more fine examples of the fact no one does it quite like Omar S. Lead track "Leave" sets the tone, as ripples of percussion emerge from a pool of simmering sonic emotion and embarks on a masterclass in slow build dancefloor revelation at breakneck pace. "Romancing The Stone" pulls from the same palette of anthemic Omar S productions as "Here's Your Trance, Now Dance" and "Psychotic Photosynthesis" as a lead array of synths, keys and chords weave with supple grace over crunchy drums - watch out for the track finishing abruptly. On the second 12", "Frogs" dovetails from a simple disco guitar loop into fucked up abstract acid techno territory with little prior warning whilst "Surpass" finds AOS ending with some anthemic maximal piano house.
Review: FXHE has been brimming with activity in recent times, with a steadfast flurry of singles refusing to let the quality drop, and now the big bossman delivers another two slices of finely cured business in his inimitable style. The lead track is an arresting piece with just a kick to drive proceedings, leaving ample room for a haunting array of bleeps and a 'speak & spell' vocal until the track slowly ramps up with some more prominent drum programming. "Mayall II" on the flip is a less tense affair, with a cheery string refrain and old school jack-in-the-box beats disseminated in a plain and simple fashion.
Review: Last time it was only Omar S that could do it; this time he's thanking us for letting him be Omar S. That's right the FXHE boss returns with an eagerly awaited new album brandishing some 14 tracks. Omar S albums naturally tend to sell themselves but, for those still curious, Thank You For Letting Me Be Myself sounds like a perfectly executed culmination of the ideas AOS has explored on the numerous 12"s since his last album. As soon as the crunchy mechanical dramatics of opening track "I'll Bring U Ah Lil Sumpin Back" launch into action you feel like you're in for quite the journey and the subsequent swerves through Detroit flavoured electro, piano flecked house, beatdown and techno come with satisfaction guaranteed.
Review: FXHE maintain their monthly heat emission for 2012, with label boss Omar S displaying all aspects of his production prowess (as well as skill for a humorous track titles) across four productions - one of which features the button bashing assistance of one Patrik Sjeren. There's something icily brilliant about the restrained "Income Tax Refund Dance" melding a dark piano riff with snapping 808 kicks and rippling lo fi rhythms which only further justifies the title of Omar S's killer 2011 LP. It's complemented by the far rowdier box jam "The White Castle Song" which jackhammers a simple yet highly flammable key riff over low rent percussion for FXHE's most potent ode to the perfect warehouse moment since the all conquering "Here's Your Trance..." Given the lack of additional info, we presume the Patrik Sjeren that produces the B Side "Untitled" track is the same Patrik Sjeren that released in the mid 90s under a multiplicity of aliases, and his contribution is every bit as incendiary as the track preceding it, whilst "3c 273" sees Omar S slip into pensive utopian electro mode with aplomb.
Review: SEX (remixes) makes for another triumphant 12" from the uber prolific FXHE stable and further smears the edges of expectation when it comes to the singular Omar S. Once again utilising the silky vocal delivery of singer L Renee, the four tracks here take divergent stylistic routes but each is magnificent. Keen listeners of Benji B's Radio 1 show will have heard the Conant Garden Posse version on a recent Big Strick guest mix, a devilishly dirty riposte to the Ghetto House aesthetic which has L Renee's vocals gliding over a snapping, raw house beat. Alongside this are two variants done in collaboration between Omar S and Aaron Fit Siegel which sound like they've been particularly inspired by soundtrack to Drive. Check the final Mack & Bewick remix for some detuned analogue nightmare set to a rippling electro beat.
Review: Alex "Omar" Smith has always come across as fairly militant in terms of his musical output, so it's still a surprise that he's chosen to celebrate the first decade of his FXHE label by putting out a series of mixes. This second installment expands on the first - released earlier this year - mixing familiar staples and scene anthems (Smith's own "It Can Be Done But Only I Can Do It") with lesser known gems. Musically, it's impressively raw, with Smith moving through a range of tough, stripped-back techno grooves and dystopian acid house gems before reaching for more melodious cuts such as the shimmering "Flying Blind" and melancholic "Three Blind Rats".
Review: With a title like Annoying Mumbling Alkaholik, you'd expect this three-tracker from the mighty Alex "Omar" Smith to be full of pent-up anger and bitter frustration. Sure, there's a raging rawness about the third track - an undulating trip into spiraling acid territory - but for the most part the EP is a beacon of simple beauty. The opening track is particularly picturesque, with beautiful, new-age influenced melodies and immersive pads riding a cymbal-heavy Detroit deep house groove. There's more Mood Hut/Future Times style synth work on the Tangerine Dream influenced "Track 2", which contrasts deep, sun-kissed melodic loops with a fuzzy drum machine groove.
Review: By Alex "Omar" Smith's standards, "I Wanna Know" is something of a curveball. It sees him joining forces with vocalist James Garcia to lay down the sort of spine-tingling vocal house cut that would have once been associated with Chicago acts such as Fingers Inc. Admittedly, it contains plenty of far-sighted Detroit electronics and Smith's usual percussive shuffle, but there's a genuine retro-futurist feel that may take some of his fans by surprise. It's rather wonderful, all told, and sounds like a crossover anthem in waiting. Turn to the flipside and you'll find the Extramental Mix, a superb instrumental version that gives Smith's sublime melodies, vintage synths and sparkling electronics a chance to shine. Artwork of the year too!
Review: The more Omar S material we get onto our shelves, the better off we all are. We love him, as you probably well know. The Detroit misfit has this knack for making simple house and techno sound rich and full of soul. That's not to say that he can't lay down some roughness and, in fact, that's exactly what we love about him. This EP, in particular, is one we've been wanting for a while' it's Alex O Smith at his damn best the whole way through, providing the dirt and the shine simultaneously. "Blown Valvetrane" is an absolute beat of an EP, a classic Detroit killer with an FX-drenched percussion, a simple drum machine groove and a whole heap of supreme nastiness - an absolute winner! "Busaru Beats" is a murky, distorted monster that lays in the shadows of its more aggressive A-side sibling, and "Deep Valve Cover" provides that classic Omar S hit; a joint that'll blow your mind with its utter simplicity and shady demeanour. SICK and BACK IN.
Review: Alex "Omar" Smith has never been one for modesty, so we shouldn't be too surprised that he's called his latest full-length - his fifth in total - The Best. To be fair, he is rather good at producing high-grade deep house, and here unveils another eleven gems. Interestingly, he's recruited an impressive cast-list of collaborators and guests, including Norman Talley, Kyle Hall, OB Ignitt and, most surprisingly of all, Bristol-based Tom Bug. Highlights are plentiful, from the dusty afro and blues influences of the tribal "Chama Piru's", and hazy, Rhodes-heavy vocal cut "AhRevolution", to the hip-wigglin' disco-house influences of "Seen Was Set", and retro-futurist, Inner City style Divinity hook-up "On Your Way".