2CD HMS 005
reviewed by Mason Jones
posted on November 11, 2005
New Zealand's Clinton Williams, a.k.a. Omit, has kept the very definition
of a low profile over the many years during which he has been dutifully
creating the droniest of drones. Omit has produced quite a number
of cassettes (early on), CD-Rs (later), and even lathe-cut singles,
some of which have been later released to slightly wider audiences,
such as the superb Quad triple-CD box released some years back by
Corpus Hermeticum. This 2-CD set is the latest, nicely produced with
suitably austere letterpress printed artwork.
I have to admit to initially being a little disappointed by the lengthy
first track of this set, "Sequester," mainly due to its
use of vocal samples, which seemed a bit at odds with the ghostly
atmospheres I associate with Omit. The samples are minimal, though,
and while they put me in mind of somewhat predictable early industrialites,
the track generally is hauntingly repetitive and effective. After
getting used to the idea of the voices, I could let the piece find
its place. Its hypnotic creepiness, like rust settling, is its strength
-- which is the case for most of Tracer.
Many of the shorter tracks are dronier, with fewer, or no, metrical
components. They're like short segments of mental fuzz, the sorts
of things you might hear inside your ears when surrounded by silence.
If there were a film about sensory deprivation, this could paradoxically
be the soundtrack, since there's no such thing as absolute silence.
These aren't exercises in near-quiet, however -- Omit is no Francisco
Lopez. The sounds here have body, it's simply that they're so divorced
from means, from instrumentation, that they exist on their own as
Some of the pieces here, such as "Rhythm Shift," are unexpectedly
accessible, following the model of electronic ambient artists (Williams
himself cites Klaus Schulz) more than industrial artists like the
easily namecheckable Throbbing Gristle -- though certainly the latter's
Heathen Earth is a touchstone for Omit's work. "Tapper Flex,"
like nearly all of the tracks, bears a title that indulges in foreplay,
hinting at the sounds involved. One of the more rhythmic songs, it
stretches a thumping sound and echoing taps across a tapestry of deep
om-like hums and electronic tones.
Songs like the second CD's opener, "Clicker," emanate the
same sort of eerie malevolence as Coil's unreleased themes for "Hellraiser."
That song's layers of clicking metallics, like the mandibles of some
robotic animal, are underlaid by deep, groaning synthesized tones.
"Link-Op" combines the feel of a mechanical church ritual
-- organ-like tones and clomping giant robot sounds -- with a sci-fi
element, thanks to treated vocals that are nearly impossible to understand
but come off like a synthetically calm public announcement. If anything,
it reminds me of Cabaret Voltaire's earliest experiments. Again, I
find that the voice detracts from the effectiveness of the song's
dreamlike drone, but it does take the song into a different sort of
territory. It's always interesting how the injection of words into
an otherwise abstract piece of music immediately causes it to be viewed
in a different light; in this case, what would have been a long alien
soundtrack ends up offering a sort of social commentary.
It's nice to see more material from Omit making its way to a wider
audience although, since this is a limited edition release, it may
not significantly broaden the number of people familiar with Williams'
work. But the recent influx of drone-oriented artists like Growing
and even Sunn 0))) shows that there's a widening interest in the area,
and Omit deserves to have its place in the spotlight. The work here
is that of an expert, with a unique sound that is as rewarding as
it is hypnotic -- which is to say, very much so.