Review Summary: Deep and wide.
"Clarity" is not a word oft associated with the bass guitar. More often than not, the instrument falls prey to adjectives such as "muddy" or "buried" or "lost." And to have two in the same band can lend itself towards a messy low-end disaster. But "clarity" is the word that keeps rising to the surface when thinking about The Omnific's Escapades. Not only is it obvious that they have complete mastery over the bass, but it is also clear that they know how to make one hell of an album with bass guitar almost completely in the spotlight.
The Omnific's first album offering is an ocean of basswork to swim through: every technique you can think of is utilized on the instrument to create as diverse a soundscape as possible. Machine gun slap sequences cascade down in staccato succession to create polyrhythmic foundations with the drums. Soaring tapping lines breach high above the surface of the low-end riffs to create airy melodies that seem to defy the crunching waves made by the lower strings on the instrument. Carefully crafted finger-style sections contrast the clanky slap sections to bring warmth back into the waters of each song. There are even offerings of tight bass harmonies that ebb and flow together with delightful balance. It's a dizzying maelstrom of technique and virtuoso, and that's what makes the swim so enjoyable: finding yourself swept away with each new motif and the feelings that come with it.
With so much happening, it would be an absolute shame if the album was muddied by bad production; thankfully, everything is crisp and refreshingly crystal clear. From the bottom all the way up, each section is expertly fine-tuned and mixed to be heard but not to overwhelm each other. The thumb hits on the basses don't fully override the kick and snare, upper register melodic lines ring clearly when they need to, and the wise addition of atmospheric synths give the steady background needed for everything else to breathe. Sections devoid of bass altogether—instead consisting of playful piano melodies or quiet synth pads with sampling—allow the album to surface for much-needed air between dives into the deep currents of rolling bass lines and driving percussion. Cymbal highlights and subtle changes to rhythms from the talented drummer keep each song interesting and distinguishable from the next. This balance is what makes the album so refreshing: the push and pull of the tides of sound and feel.
It's really difficult to fault Escapades in any significant way. The album is crafted in such a manner that it knows its potential downfalls and elegantly paddles around them. It's obvious that The Omnific knew what they might be missing by excluding guitars from the pool party, so they de-emphasized those potential flaws and bolstered everything else to make up for it. The finished product is so polished and complete that the question of "What's missing?" never crosses the mind, as can be the tendency for bands that choose to omit an instrument.
From start to finish, Escapades is massively enjoyable and a bassist's dream come true. The Omnific clearly knows that their sound is not meant to soar in the high registers with similar guitar instrumentals, so instead they have the listener take the plunge into the seas of expertly crafted songs meant to highlight the rhythm instruments playing them. Obviously, if you're not a fan of swimming in these types of waves, then you probably will only dip your toes and be satisfied. But for everyone else, dive right in: the water is excellent.