OHM’s ‘Amino Acid Flashback’
Jan-Mikael’s EARS: review: OHM’s ‘Amino Acid Flashback’
OHM’s music is often described as fusion, and in the same sentence is often attached to Chris Poland’s previous work with metal pioneers Megadeth. Neither of these stratifications fully encapsulates the essence of what OHM is…
Poland is a singularly inventive guitarist. His technique never fails to impress, and his singing-yet- searing tone is instantly recognizable. He routinely avoids ‘shredding’ clichés, and his juxtaposition of reverse/ghost bends in unexpected places with his impeccably tuned vibrato renders his playing constantly listenable and surprising.
Compositionally OHM have taken their fusion-influences, melded them with the rhythmic aggression of metal, and through sheer instrumental prowess churned out a hybrid power-trio rock that could be likened to a ‘hi-tech Cream-meets-Crimson-meets-Dixie Dregs.’
I draw the comparison to Cream in that OHM is as much about the individual performances as it is concerned with the sum of the parts, although conflict never arises, nor is there ever a struggle for space. Unlike Cream, the arrangements are orchestrated to allow room both sonically and texturally, rendering each instrumentalist clearly audible, while still allowing symbiosis harmonically.
Like King Crimson, in the angularity of the guitar melodies and the amalgam of seething rhythmic beds over which the guitars don’t so much float as careen…Unlike Crimson in that most of the chord progressions provide respite to the ear from jarring irresolution.
The Dregs, in the integration of harmonic logic that teeters on the edge of jazz but never quite crosses over, and in the use of finesse in orchestration worthy of Morse and company…
Khofi Baker, son of Ginger, provides propulsion in a manner befitting his pedigree, proving himself more than a mere chip off the block…empathetic, incendiary and always unrestrained in his elegance, Baker adds a ‘cross-the-bar-lines’ dimension that former drummer David Eagle didn’t.
Robertino Pagliari is a fretless titan, possessing superb pitch, phenomenal technique and a sanguine yet present tone. The interaction and sympathy between him and Poland is noteworthy. Never does his tone or note choice encroach upon Poland’s space, and his use of effects (particularly on ‘Rooms of Telemetry’) is sublime.
The production is stellar. Each instrument is clearly heard without being overly isolated, and yet the overall sound of the recording is organic and satisfying. It sounds live.
Rating: 10-/10. The minus is for the lack of variation in sound from song to song. One of my criticisms of guitar-oriented music is that too often the performance and weight of the compositional intent overshadows the need to provide the listener with variation in sound and to provide some sort of respite from the same tone and aural ambience presented.
OHM has delivered a superb sophomore effort. Not fusion, certainly not metal, ‘Amino Acid Flashback’ is a resolute addition to the rock/jazz power-trio lexicon…now, how about a little nylon string, or maybe a banjo…