Artist: Omega OneTitle: The Lo-Fi ChroniclesRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Jason Newman
You may not know the name Omega One but if youve been following underground or alternative Hip-Hop for a minute, chances are youve heard at least one of his beats. The longtime DJ/producer, who has worked with such veterans as Aesop Rock, I Self Divine and Cannibal Ox, finally drops an album of his own with the Lo-Fi Chronicles (Nature Sounds). A heady record that mixes Hip-Hop with downtempo, Chronicles falls somewhere in between to make this a worthy purchase.
Unlike so many other downtempo albums, Omega One realizes that no matter how hot the beat, you can only ride it for so long before head-nodding turns to head-falling. The spooky opening track Body Double, for example, recalls The Herbaliser and early DJ Cam but throws in random, cinematic vocal samples that keep the track engaging. But classifying Chronicles strictly as a downtempo album discounts one of Omegas trademarks: heavy, boom-bap drums that form the foundation for many of the tracks. Sure, the jazzy piano loop of Memento or woozy organ off Off the Horizon would usually make for elements in a pre-sleep disc, but the heaviness of the drums make these beats as hot to rhyme over as pass out to.
While largely an instrumental album, emcees do exist in Omegas world. I Want it All features I Self Divine over a constantly-tweaked funk bassline, finger snaps and a sound that can only be described as hands hitting away at a typewriter. While I Self Divine holds his own, the standout track goes to Coup Detat featuring LoDeck. With equal parts psychedelia, science fiction sounds and Eastern strings in the mix, LoDecks aggressive delivery and gravelly voice nicely matches Omegas hard drums.
If theres any fault to be found on Chronicles¸ its the tendency of certain tracks to overstay their welcome a little too long. But this is far from the norm. With Lo-Fi Chronicles, Omega One graduates from track producer to album maestro and skillfully walks the line between two genres.