Column: Omar S, A Romantic Anti-hero

Omar S

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In the current position of our modern dance ‘community’, which is much better described by the term a ‘well-oiled industry’ than a ‘community’, we yearn for anti-heroes. DJs, producers or party organizers who act solely out of artistic considerations, personalities who still embrace the ‘true spirit’ in their hearts. When Omar-S began starting producing his controversial productions – around the beginning of the 2000s – he was instantly crowned as the decade’s much anticipated anti-hero.

Omar-S’s story contained all the right components: a down-and-out Detroit resident with a tedious job, wasting his time in the auto industry during the day and busy in the evening creating records that every label out there rejected. A seemingly outlandish tale that in real time – the beginning of the 2000s – defies the economic-technological-cultural reality.

With a massive hype around his name on the web after barely a record and a half Omar also turned out to be a man of sinful hubris – a principle indicating that he is an antagonist masked as an anti-hero (and the credit goes to Derrick May). Omar doesn’t whine about the fact that labels such as Djax-Up-Beats or Strictly Rhythm rejected him, and he certainly doesn’t think there’s a reason we should feel sorry about his work in the auto industry, which he so protectively still keeps. While he may be a romantic anti-hero with a volley of infantile expressions of which he may or may not be aware, above all he is is a trailblazing aesthete.

 Yeah bitch! That’s all that’s happening in this fucking track! It’s your lazy ass that needed another record added on it!

About the minimalism of his work, 2007

In 2003, the days in which the electro-clash started to set its sights on larger audiences and we were just about to believe that DFA, Mylo and Tiefschwarz are The shit, Alex “Omar” Smith releases his first record outside Detroit, “002”. It’s unclear if it was intentional or accidental, but the four tracks composing that very important and admired release, present the full, wide musical spectrum that later on formed his unique musical identity.

The record, whose only visual images referencing to his identity are handwriting in marker and/or a stamp pointing towards an email address, opens with “I Hate”.  A concoction of distorted analog techno that perhaps suffers from a banal use of a sample of the Inner City chord, but is presented with such aesthetics that swims against the current with all the length and power of the Grand Canyon, even more so when you consider the period in which it was created.

Omar S – I Hate

After that display of hatred and rage, “Miss You” concludes the first side of the record. A sort of gloomy Detroit Beatdown that resembles Moodymann and Theo Parrish in its production and style, but also renders the air with a naked and much more minimal groove than what was accepted in the genre at the time.

But even these two tracks, which are so interesting and innovative for their period, do not compare to the second side of the record, which remains to this very day a true milestone in the new aesthetical movement of independent deep house in America.

In a rhythmical composition that echoes ‘Energy Flash’, between smoky dubbiness and alienating mechanicalness, the track ‘U’ (Instrumental), opens side B of ‘002’. The fascinating dissonance it presents between hot and cold is undoubtedly this ugly duckling’s swan song, providing it not only with a mix of screeching sound but also with the distinct mark of recognition so identified with his work. And then comes ‘Set It Out’.

 Omar S – Set It Out

Did you read the shit people are saying already about the Fabric Mix? A few assholes are talking about “Oh, Omar-S. He did the same thing as Ricardo Vi-vi–….” whatever the fuck he’s called. I don’t even know who Ricardo Willalobo is. I ain’t start hearing his name till like a year ago. Who the fuck is that?

About his great fondness of the Chilean minimal techno wave, 2009

With zero awareness of what’s happening outside the basement of his home, which serves as a studio, a label office and above all a hash den, FXHE which was founded out of lack of other options is gathering momentum and respect and starts functioning as a springboard for other reject producers. Jus-Ed, Kyle Hall, Luke Hess and even Seth Troxler are starting to enjoy the fruits of the hype forming around the small label, but are soon kicked out under the boss’s instructions to start making their own name for themselves:

“A lot of people are fucking babies and shit. They want you to keep putting shit out on your label. Basically what FXHE Records was designed to do for other artists was for the artist to do a record or two on the label and then go off and do his own thing.”

“I might release some stuff from Jason Fine and Big Strick and one other person and that’s it. Jus-Ed is the only one who really took advantage of that. Jus-Ed did his first song on FXHE Records, he got a name for himself, now he’s doing his own thing BIG. I’m really proud of him. Kyle Hall is doing the same as well!”

From an interview for ‘Resident Advisor‘, 2009

Omar S is playing this Friday in Perron Rotterdam at the 90 Degrees event. For tickets and information click here.

Omar S Perron

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Yotam Avni

Mostly known for his DJing and Music Productions for Robsoul, Yourba and Transmat, Yotam Avni is no stranger to most DJ's. By the age of 25 he already produced records with some of the greatest names in electronic music history such as Osunlade, Terrence Parker, Jovonn and Charles Webster. In Israel, where most of his Journalist work is based, he's known for his long opinionated articles about the orgins of electronic music and the importance of Detroit to him and the rest of the world.