Omo - The White Album

posted 16 Aug 2009, 12:37 by The Editor   [ updated 17 Aug 2009, 03:10 ]


"When the English started talking about Krautrock, we thought they were just taking the piss...and when you hear of the so-called 'Krautrock renaissance', it makes me think everything we did was for nothing". So says Faust, and the true meaning of these words is found in sampling the humorously named Omo.

There was once a beauty in the idea of Krautrock, and in particular it's roots, such as The Velvet Underground, Frank Zappa, The Beatles and all the mysterious rest. Krautrock is, or was, about changing the norm, challenging propriety and as a result was at least always beautifully and darkly intriguing.

Omo, with their "White Album" EP, which presumably is a homage to The Beatles (presumably, please God, make it so), prove that you really can judge a book by its cover. And here Faust's great quote has resonance; krautrock is now a genre, which contains generic functions; progressive rock music juxtaposed almost uncomfortably at times with the sounds of free jazz, synthesizers and electro. There is nothing iconoclastic about it anymore, and this is where Omo sort of fit in. It's not that they're completely stale, it's just that its hard to keep a straight face as the lead singer breaks new musical ground by singing in a mock Stephan Hawking voice (which goes on for the whole album) 'is it two o clock already? is it two o clock already?' over and over again.

Of course, krautrock has its mantra 'better living through technology', but, like, really, the Stephan Hawking voice continues for the whole album. Personal taste obviously applies but of all the benefits of modern technology to incorporate into music, Stephan Hawking as a singer?

Oh yeah, the songs. Track three, which I'm currently listening too, is a long drawn out description of an underwater boat by female Hawking. 'Elevator music from Hell' is a term which constantly keeps popping into my head, but then I keep thinking 'wait a minute, that sounds awesome'. In truth, it's not. But 'elevator music from hell' I think is an adequate term to take from this review and decide if you want to 'go there'. Sort of like that tape in The Ring. I am warning you against playing this, but if you are intrigued, be prepared. 

One thing the band definitely do have going for them is most of their melodies, drum rhythms and bass lines are catchy and occasionally genuinely energizing. The first drum beats of the first song are very encouraging. The backing music behind the singing is balanced, using drum machines and a xylophone effectively. And on track four the band successfully create a harmony and find a nice contrast between a steady, funky beat and the synthesized and non-synthesized instruments. The result is a catchy, eruptive, very well crafted song. But then the chorus kicks in: Mrs Hawking singing 'Would you be surprised when I'm over-sized?' Over and over. And over again.

Omo are pushing that krautrock thing a bit too far, perfectly demonstrated by their naming of the LP, "The White Album", and it's a shame, because musically there are great moments on this album, it's just completely butchered by Omo's desperate desire to achieve 'classic Krautrock'. They are already a good, intriguing band without having to try to be. When they try to go that extra mile with lyrics and experimental singing, Omo become embarrassing and absolutely un-listenable. This is demonstrated best on track five, which I'm not ready to write about, and don't think I will be for some time.     

Buy : Omo - The White Album        



Pat Lee

© SleepOnTheLeft