Part of the appeal of Omar-S' music has always been the slight arrogant undertone present in his tracks - for proof, just look at the title of his last album. It Can Be Done, But Only I Can Do It
, has been the man's motto for as long as he's been in the game, not taking notes from anything or anyone else. And although his new release, Thank You For Letting Me Be Myself
, suggests the Detroit DJ has become a bit older, wiser and humbler, it's still hard to take the statement non-ironically. Yet for all the narcissistic mannerisms he continues to display in his music, the tracks themselves keep on being masterfully programmed tunes, carrying with them the spirit of his hometown.
Listening to Thank You...
is akin to be taken away on a journey throughout Detroit's legendary history of dance music. And like with his previous output, Omar takes his time to let that journey unfold. As always, his rudimentary but melodic house and techno music is built from only the most necessary parts: a no-nonsense four-to-the-floor drum track and one, continuously looping synth line. It makes his work come off as deceitfully simple and primitive, yet criminally effective as well. And strange enough, despite the frequent crossing of the six-minute barrier, his tracks never really start to sound all that enervating. As far as I'm concerned, that has to do with his full analogue approach; flashy modern software is strictly forbidden in Omar-S' studio. The result is a slightly chilly, but very groovy and atmospheric record which uses time and repetition to get its message across.
Not every track is a smashing success, though. Especially in the second half of the album, filler like the endlessly trailing 'Tardigrade' or the puberally titled and clichéd acid track 'Ready My Black Asz' detracts from the overall quality of Thank You...
The songs also need each other's company to have any lasting impact. Taken separately, they don't have nearly as much staying power as when they are lumped together, supporting each other and weighing down on the same fundaments. Therefore, Thank You...
is an album that as a whole is clearly more than the sum of its parts.
Still, there are some individual jams to be found on the record, of which the grandiose eight-minute title track immediately comes to mind. Unfolding itself as a hazy rave daydream, anyone giving the track the attention it deserves will find himself surfing along the irresistible groove that Omar lays out throughout its meandering running time. A bit earlier, the claustrophobic and disturbing 'Hellter Skelter' sounds like it was blasted from the dirtiest, grittiest sound system imaginable, and then was drowned in the depths of the ocean, for good measure. Elsewhere, the at new-beat hinting 'Air Of Day' and the jazzy Frankie Knuckles-tribute 'The Shi
t Baby' will definitely evoke a good dose of nostalgia for anyone who can remember the heydays of the late '80s techno movement.
But looking back certainly isn't Omar-S' style, because as said earlier he couldn't give less of a damn about what others want from him. He just does what comes natural, and coincidentally, what comes natural for him just feels like classic Detroit. He gets away with it though, and he owes it to his arrogance; or let's just call it self-assuredness. As a pure statement Thank You For Letting Me Be Myself
may not be as powerful as It Can Be Done, But Only I Can Do It
, but the music itself is anything but.