O$VMV$M have recently dropped their third self-titled album. The Waveform Transmitter’s Niall Johnston takes in an ambient dub long-player that closes off a trilogy of O$VMV$M albums for the Idle Hands imprint.
O$VMV$M are an example of an outfit that gives totally new reign to artists already well known for a particular brand of electronic music. O$VMV$M consists of Amos Childs and Sam ‘Neek’ Barrett, with the latter producing modern grime variations alongside Kahn – or more traditional sound system shakers as Gorgon Sound – and the former, a brand of introspective melodic pieces as part of the Jabu group. Together as O$VMV$M, they explore totally different environments and aspects of sound.
Their third eponymous album follows on from their earlier releases to further solidify the niche that the pair has carved out for themselves. It’s a style based around lo-fi ambient soundscapes permeated by bursts of notes, an array of samples and distortion. They deal almost exclusively in loops, which range from foggy half-speed trumpets to sparse percussive sections. The tracks are often made up of simply two or three loops which they style into roughly two minute tracks, resulting in an album only 22 minutes in length. This short production style strongly puts paid to the idea that immersive music needs to be long and drawn out.
Listening to the tracks chronologically there is a sense of movement through the album, led by a quickening tempo and increasing density of sonic layering. But at the same time there isn’t a linear flow- these tracks can be listened to in isolation. Sharp distinctions exist between the eerie, haunting tension of Shook and the driving electric guitar licks of Return, before the warm chords and angelic voices of Naturaal simmer in.
The B-side shifts the mood into sweeter territory as a creeping dread gives way to infusions of jazz-inspired saxophones and trumpets. The breadth of the sound palette this album possesses is further demonstrated on 4mor, where we’re graced by a wonderfully nostalgic little RnB vocal. The sample is pitch-shifted and mutated over a consistent crackling, giving the effect of a faulty microphone set-up. If poorly executed, this could sound pretty terrible but here it’s carried off with ingenuity.
This technique is reminiscent of Burial’s seminal album from 2006, Untrue, where vocal samples, set against haunting backdrops, were altered beyond recognition from their original state, giving fairly mundane lyrics new life.
In O$VMV$M’s latest LP, as with Untrue, these lyrics are just a part of the story that we are told as we move through the album. But being such a sparse, minimalist collection, room is left for the listener to add their own meaning to the story. It can therefore be thought of best as a back-drop for those slow moments in life – dreary winter mornings as or a humid summers eve – which can require a soundtrack, but nothing too intrusive.
The O$VMV$M project is so far removed from the respective artist’s other work it is hard to believe at times. This just goes to show the breadth that both these artists and the label Idle Hands, possess. Alongside some house, techno and disco, they predominantly release the Bristolian sounds of dubstep, grime, reggae and dub– and the label never fails to disappoint. We look forward to hearing more both from O$VMV$M, the other projects they are part of, and from Idle Hands.
You can purchase the album here, but in the meantime, take a listen to Shook, from O$VMV$M, below.