Thursday, June 21, 2018

Listen/Watch: Ohmme - "Icon"

photo by Maren Celest

When I was first introduced to Chicago based experimental duo Ohmme last year from fellow experimental duo Ahleuchatistas, I was immediately taken not only with their impeccable vocal harmonies but the effortless blend of abrasive, dissonant guitar parts and the gentle flow of their vocal lines. Ohmme's ability to methodically blend disparate parts into something incredibly engaging as well as challenging, made me fall hook, line, and sinker for their unique band of meticulously crafted experimental rock pop.

Considering my introduction to them laid in the dark pop jangle of "Woman", the first thing I noticed in the pastel-colored music video for Ohmme's new single "Icon" was not just the visually brightness but also tonal one. The guitar lines are cleaner, Sima Cunninham and Macie Stewart's vocals lighter in tone and delivery. It's slightly surprising considering Ohmme largely rooted themselves in darker palettes on their debut EP. But intensely capable as both songwriters and composers, Ohmme's decision to turn the lights on in "Icon" doesn't take away from the fact that the duo are skilled purveyors of intricate rock pop.

The music video, directed by Elijah Alvarado, makes humorous reference to this newfound stylistic change as Cunningham and Stewart clad in their dark clothing navigate an aggressive brightly colored birthday party thrown for a dog by its owner attended by suit clad guests with balloons for faces. Cunningham and Stewart smile and make polite conversation but a casual eye-roll here and there and frequent attempts to dodge the guests let you know they're interactions are more out of social obligation than enjoyment. Though all of their reactions to the birthday good boy and its owner seem genuine. All the time Cunningham and Stewart sing about a nameless protagonist's appetite for destruction with a penchant for dark conversations topics who ties to portray herself as softer and more ladylike.

Then halfway through, the guitar shifts tone and Cunningham and Stewart are bathed in dim colors and red light. Earlier instances of balloons being popped become more obvious as the duo beginning delighted popping balloon much to the horror of the balloon-faced guests. Not only is it hilarious but from its very opening lyric - Ohmme and Alvarado ensure "Icon" syncs both in visual and musical  compositional. The song's frequent disgruntled references to balloons becomes a significant part of the video's aesthetic and Ohmme flirt with new sound styles pairing breezy melodies and textures with dynamic tonal shifts. It's a great offering at what they duo are capable of and should properly excite anyone who hears the new single or sees the video about their new album Parts which is out later this year.
   


Parts, the debut full length record from Ohmme, is out August 24th on Joyful Noise Recordings. You can pre-order the record now.

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