Concept album based around The Omega Man, from the “godfather of minimal”.
Ben Arnold 2010-06-14
Omega is a concept album of sorts from Robert Hood, the “godfather of minimal” and a founder member of the shadowy Underground Resistance, the political wing of Detroit's electronic music scene, of which he was appointed Minister of Information.
In the vein of fellow former UR member Jeff Mills' groundbreaking project in which he wrote his own re-imagined soundtrack to Fritz Lang's dystopian vision Metropolis, Hood has based his latest digital excursion on The Omega Man, the 1971 sci-fi classic starring Charlton Heston, which in turn was based on Richard Matheson's 1954 novel I Am Legend (the legacy of which is unfortunately tainted by a more recent, woefully substandard vehicle for Will Smith). Like Metropolis, it is also something of an unsettling version of the future, but one devastated by science unleashed, biological war and populated by marauding psychotic survivors, something that Hood is mindful of in using the film as inspiration (it is not strictly a soundtrack) for his latest work. “It’s definitely metaphoric,” he says, “and if we don't heed the signs, this is where we'll end up. We live in a society where we just consume. We just take.”
As inspiration, it has proved valuable. From the eerie layered vocals of opening track Alpha (The Beginning) and the glitchy, ambient electronics of The Plague (Cleansing Maneuvers), Hood's scene is evocatively set. Towns That Disappeared Completely introduces a throbbing 4/4, punctuated with a stabbing synth. Alpha is firmer still, industrial and threatening, machine music and evidence of his deft skill in making hypnotic minimalism captivating. Think Fast is funky and flowing, while Are You God? pulses before building to a clattering, almost arrhythmic crescendo. The Family Watches and War in the Streets are on the surface chugging, stripped-down club tracks offered substance by Hood's sinister subject matter. Saved By the Fire and The Wheels of Escape twist layers of bleeps and bizarre effects over urgent, pulsating percussion, while the charging, hypnotic synths of album closer Omega (End of Times) are genuinely unsettling.
In affording his stripped, mesmerising minimalism a jarring, apocalyptic context, so it becomes all the more engrossing.