The Omega 3 have been seen on the horizon.
We are awaiting sonar contact so we can fill out what has happened. This is from the last sighting:
Since early 2007 when the old sea dog and pioneer of all things hard NRG, Captain Tinrib, announced a brand new project in the making. There then followed a slew of fresh new high-quality (and highly distinctive) releases by the new New Zealand based trio, Omega 3 – including on Tidy Trax, Tinrib Digital, Vicious Circle and Carbon Recordings. The top DJs in the scene were obviously excited by the new music – Paul Glazby, Andy Farley and Justin Bourne for example have all been caning Omega 3 tracks left, right and centre. But the Omega 3 ALBUM, ‘Lost at Sea’, was what we the clubbing public wanted for our CD players.
Omega 3 consists of three essential fish-oils: Captain Tinrib, who needs little introduction, being the name most associated with the original hard NRG sound, the skipper of Tinrib Recordings (now Tinrib-Digital NZ), and the host/pilot of the Fish!/Superfish! club night; Scuba Steve (Arnold), an established and respected DJ producer hailing from New Zealand; and fellow Kiwi DJ-producer, Butcher Boy (aka Dale Fairbairn), proprietor of Carbon Recordings.
This new album represents a joint venture, an emergent product of the different contributions of these three sea-faring characters, which varied across the tracks. But followers of the distinctive Tinrib sound will recognize and delight in the familiar style of twisted riffs, multi-layered percussion loops, acid, hoover and other synth sounds that are the hallmark of the good Captain and all who sail with him. Skipper is clearly at the helm here once again.
The album is subtitled ‘trancy dancey NRG tales from the deep’. Most of the trance riffs on the album are attributable to Scuba Steve’s scholarship of the Goa sitar. Omega 3 have therefore unapologetically appropriated the massive epic trance sound for ‘Lost at Sea’. This album is therefore quite a different kettle of fish to the awesome ‘Captain Tinrib Live in San Francisco’ of a couple of years back.
But DON’T be fooled by the reference to ‘trance’ here. It does well to remember that hard underground (underwater?) trance was always a feature of the unique Tinrib sound, from its beginnings in the 1990s. The ‘trancey dancey’ NRG of Omega3 is therefore NOT the airy, angel-delight-lite, girl-vocal fluff that many of us have come to despair of since ‘trance’ went over-ground. Thunderous loud percussion and deep loud bass-lines are ever-present in this banging, throbbing collection of tracks that are already beloved by today’s discerning hard house crowd. The Omega boys have been selective in taking the very best features of that broad genre of ‘trance’ music. The result is an album which is at once UPLIFTING (check out ‘Hammer time’), hypnotic, and MELODIC – with some great and extremely catchy tunes (check out ‘We can fly’) – but is also and ultimately hardnfast music. Omega3 play hard NRG.
Moreover, in what is the acid test of dance music, by dispensing with the endless pompous breakdowns that otherwise mar even some of the best trance tracks, THIS album keeps the stompability throttle set to the max. The breakdowns are short and interesting at all times! The beats are relentless on the good ship Omega!
‘Lost at Sea’ is also a CD that does what a properly thought through ALBUM should: like a good live set, it takes the listener on a journey. There is set progression here, as the NRG, BPM and dirt-per-gram are all gradually stepped up. The deep-sea voyage begins with the recent massive hit ‘We can fly’ (Vicious Circle), before assaulting our aural senses with the roaring and euphoric ‘Fishy situations’. This grower of a track was said by King Farley to define 2007 for him musically! For me, it stands out a mile in every set I have heard it played in. There is next a fresh new take on ‘Manta’, a welcome hark-back to the very first (and brilliant) Tinrib album, ‘Battered and crispied’. You’ll recognize the howling vocal emotional stab in this track, which remains one of the all time classics of UK underground ‘hard dance’ music.
Later, our beloved hoovers arrive and take the album in an altogether darker, dirtier direction. This, the most characteristic and evocative sound in hard house again emphasizes the continuity between this and previous Tinrib output, despite the fresh, bright, contemporary feel of the album as a whole. Likewise, ‘The Gateway’ is super dirty acid music with a rumbling percussive roll and a spooky psychedelic voiceover. Then, ‘Wired out’ harks back both to the European trancey-acid-techno that inspired the original Fish! crew to write their music, AND to the most up to date quality ‘filth’ currently coming out of the top hard house labels – Vicious Circle, FlashPoint, Toolbox, Tripoli et al… The finale to the album is the rip-roaring twisted shout-along of ‘Farkin oldSkool’, with its super twisted (Captain?) hook.
What else can I say? For all the musical labels I have tossed around in this review, I have to agree that that Skipper’s own appellation of the music on this album, as ‘ungenre-able’, is the best way to (un-)label it. In what is a musically vigorous and highly creative current hard dance scene, this album is a true original. It cements the Skipper’s reputation as one of the most distinctive producers in the scene; and it introduces a wider clubbing public to the production and writing talents of Kiwi talents Butcher Boy and Scuba Steve, in an album which is like quite no other. Let me therefore say finally that you, the clubbing public, overwhelmed as you are with cheap and free downloads, won’t want to miss out on this album – if you love hard&fast&melodic&techtranceydancey ungenre-able NRG music anything like I do!
Review by John Nutter.