MGF Reviews Om Winter Sessions 2 – Mixed by Hipp-E and Style of Eye

Om Winter Sessions 2Mixed by Hipp-E and Style of Eye
Om Records (1/22/08)
DJ Mix (House / Techno)

So there’s this nice little quasi-independent label that’s been around for a while now. You may have heard of it—Astralwerks. Since their very first releases, they seemed to be very much on top of the burgeoning electronic music scene. At first specializing in fantastic ambient collections, the imprint went on to spread the gospel of many artists who have come to be world-renowned in the genre, such as the Future Sound of London, Tranquility Bass, µ-ziq, the Chemical Brothers, Todd Terry, Spacetime Continuum and (inexplicably) Fatboy Slim.

Not completely satisfied with a chiefly electronic roster, however, Astralwerks subsequently branched out, signing deals with indie artists like the Beta Band, Horace Andy (OK, he’s reggae, but I guess he’s indie reggae), Turin Brakes, Badly Drawn Boy, Doves, Kings of Convenience, Sondre Lerche, Ed Harcourt, Plastilina Mosh and others who Shawn M. Smith will probably get angry over if I continue to discuss them at any further length. So we’ll move along…

While they’ve become a pretty respectable source for indie music, a lot of the artists still have elements of the electronic genre which put the label onto the map in the first place. VHS or Beta, Hot Chip, The Juan McLean and Primal Scream all do this nicely, and Air was probably one of the firsts among the label’s roster for pulling in the indie kids sometime around 1998, though at the time they were still usually referred to simply as “college students.” But not forgetting their roots, however, Astralwerks still cranks out regular releases by the Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Suck and Basement Jaxx, all the while still staying on the fresh side of the genre by acquiring new electro acts like Audio Bullys, Miss Kittin and Röyksopp. They even managed to snag pioneers like Kraftwerk and Brian Eno along the way.

The moral of the story is that Astralwerks pwns. Always has, always will.

And now here comes the part where I wrap that rather long lede—in which I just about name-dropped everything but the Kitchen Sink (who, by the way, will be broadcasting this week LIVE from Brno, Czech Republic)—into this review for the newest Om Records compilation, Om Winter Sessions 2.

Most of the time, it’s good to see record labels branch out and try something new, as Om Records has done with this series. Like last year’s Winter Sessions, this one deviates from the core of funky, organic downtempo and house on which the label’s foundation was built, in favor of some darker, more minimal tech tracks. Don’t get me wrong; they still move, and if one is not expecting deep house-type material, one should be more than satisfied with this collection. Sure, it’s not as dramatic of a change as Astralwerks embracing indie rock, but it’s still something that will certainly take some Om fans off-guard. Plus, after writing that lede, I don’t feel like deep-sixing the whole thing.

This is a two-disc set, consisting of mixes by Eric “Hipp-E” Galaviz (of H-Foundation) and Linus “Style of Eye” Eklow, respectively. Hipp-E’s mix starts out with the deep, droning, minimal house track “Start to Play”, by Wagon Cookin. After nearly eight minutes it nicely blends into the dark “Freaky Bleepy” by Martin Blodin (Spencer Parker’s Freaky Bleepy Remixy), and it is at this point that I realize two things: (a) in order to appreciate this mix fully, one must have a good sound system, because this shit bumps like no other, and (b) there’s a sound effect amid the melange of others in this song that sounds a lot like the alert sound that my iMac makes when something’s wrong. Although it had my head spinning for the first few minutes, I got used to it and was able to go back to enjoying the track. After some more nice minimal stuff by Danism (presented, by the way, by Liquid People) and Justin Martin, respectively, the mix starts to climax (with tracks like dark “Alcoolic”, by Popof, and “Sneaker Asylum”, by Magik Johnson), and culminates with the just plain evil acid house of Niki B & Christian Effe on the Magik Johnson remix of “Trouble”. Style of Eye’s “The Sound of the Big Kazoo” is a bit irritating at first, but it picks up nicely to carry the deep percussion that stays pretty much throughout the entire mix. Other hot tracks were “Donut Hound”, by Deepchild, and a remix of “Inner Peace”, by Aaron Sontag & Nica Brooke”.

While Style of Eye’s mix unfortunately doesn’t include the club-stomper “We Got You”, it does carry on the same dark tone as Hipp-E’s, except it brings a lot more of a techno sound to the field. To kicks off the set, he layers “H-Bomb” (by himself) over Worthy’s “Bird of Prey” (remixed by himself), and again, I urge you, listen to this album through a good sound system. Your ears will thank you. The Rejekts’ “Rejektion” wonderfully blends a robotic sound with an underlying funk element, as this tone carries on through another track by Style of Eye and “Fashion Show”, by Oliver Huntemann, before we get the futurific “Nacht” by Tiger Stripes—and this is only the fifth track. I could go on for three more paragraphs about how prolific the tracks in this mix are, but instead I’ll just advise you to go out and buy it. Other highlights from Style of Eye’s mix were the funky tech of Worthy’s “Copius” and the DAMN EVIL “Mariannenplatz” by Paul Panzer.

If you’re a fan of Om’s more traditional sound, with the deep funky stuff, proceed with caution, but you’ll soon realize that the mix is kind of like a hot bath—it might sting a bit at first, but after a while you’ll be in bliss, lying in a pool of your own filth.