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The White Album

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Album Review

The London/Berlin-based duo Omo have a good deal in common with their willfully weird Lo Recordings labelmates the Chap, which comes as little surprise considering that one-half of the duo, Berit Immig, also serves as a vocalist and keyboardist in that band (and, in fact, both members of Omo previously played with Chap main man Johannes Von Weizsäcker in the group Karamazov). The two outfits share a deliciously warped sensibility, characterized by a wry, steely-eyed humorousness that seems at once decidedly English and also rather incongruous and alien, as though something were being lost (or deliberately mangled) in translation. Whereas the Chap typically deliver a fairly muscular, mutant electro-rock sound, Omo's musical approach on this debut LP is calmer and gentler but perhaps even quirkier, combining cheap-sounding synths and beatboxes with languidly plucked guitars and an array of electronic burbles, whistles, wordless vocalizing, and other odd noises to craft sparse but amiable compositions recalling the retro-minded stylings of groups like Plone and Stereolab as well as the strangely lucid sonic abstractions of the Books. As curious and endearing as Omo's music might be, however, its primary function is clearly to serve as a backdrop for the duo's vocal and lyrical shenanigans. Typically delivered in spoken or half-sung phrasing (bearing out occasionally cited comparisons to Laurie Anderson) and often subjected to electronic vocal manipulations whose effect is, on the whole, more whimsical than off-putting, The White Album's lyrics focus in on the minutia of various facets of everyday life: the hours of the clock ("2 PM"), a tennis game ("Advantage"), some fish in a tin ("Fish in the Tin"), and, of course, teatime ("Tea Break"), along with occasional forays into biology ("Her Body," a found-text description of a bird laying an egg) and fantasy ("König," sung by a theramin-voiced queen with a crown of "real stars"). There's an occasional whiff of overarching commentary on the culture of consumerist consumption — in the general preoccupation with material objects and in more specific instances like the music industry vignette "Live Show," the bland ad-copy language of "ROV," and especially standout track "Oversized," which features some folderol about eating tarts (over a perky, chintzy bossa-nova beat) followed by the comically unsettling refrain "Will you be surprised when I'm oversized?" By and large, though, Omo offer arch absurdism of an elemental and purely conceptual stripe, rendering any inklings of interpretation more or less gleefully futile. ~ K. Ross Hoffman, Rovi

Biography

Formed: 2004 in London, England

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '00s

The eccentric U.K. art pop duo Omo consist of Berit Immig (also a member of the eccentric U.K. art pop band the Chap) and conceptual/experimental visual artist David Muth. Having previously played together in the group Karamasov (along with the Chap's Johannes Von Weizsäcker), Immig and Muth began their collaboration in 2004, utilizing "small instruments" to construct the curious electronic/acoustic pieces which they describe as "domestic pop for domestic occasions" — genially simple but decidedly...
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The White Album, OMO
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