There’s something to be said for putting limits onto oneself as an artist. Sometimes, putting boundaries on what is possible gives rise to creativity. I can only assume that’s the rationale behind The Omnific, a band that uses the bass guitar as its primary melodic instrument.
In some ways, recording songs with a band such as The Omnific must be a serious challenge. Since bass is usually a rhythm instrument, putting it at the forefront of an entire album requires disregarding most of the conventions of rock music. Sadly, I think Kismet may not give us all of the answers on that front.
So What Answers Do They Give Us?
One of the teaser tracks from this album, “Objets de Vertu”, begins well enough. The harmonized arpeggios and hook make for a good start, but the bells (chimes?) that come in later feel awkward by comparison. The melody itself is uninteresting, and the tone of the bells doesn’t blend all that well with the other colors the band is using.
The closing track, “Sonorous Pt.2”, follows a similar tempo as “Objets…”. Sitting at just under five minutes, this cut functions as more of a ballad. I enjoy The Omnific‘s ‘less is more’ approach here, and the background synth strings are less distracting and more complimentary to the melody. However, it could have stuck the landing a bit better, as the drums become quite cluttered towards the end.
There are some faster cuts on Kismet as well, such as the title track, which starts off by building a nice layer of velvety atmosphere before leading into some unexpected djenty passages. Once the background synths and bells (???) come in, though, I quickly begin to lose interest. I do like the moments where the basses harmonize with the bells around the three-minute mark, but it’s not enough to keep me engaged throughout the rest of the piece.
Of course, there’s more djent to be found, like on the song “Ersatz”. This two-minute diversion is a left hook compared to a few of the other songs due to its several tempo changes. The track reminds me a lot of something Veil of Maya would put out, given the heavy ancient Egyptian (or should I say Sumerian) vibe provided by the swirling instrumentation in the background. Despite the bland synths found here (and all over Kismet), this track is way more fun than some of the others.
So Are The Answers Still Out There?
I would love to hear a great rock-oriented project – with no guitars – that uses the bass as its source of melody. Unfortunately, Kismet is not that project. It’s not that The Omnific lack the virtuosity to play great songs, no; they rather lack engaging song structure and production. Granted, I can forgive some of the production kinks on this EP. As I mentioned earlier, this band is lowkey trying to reinvent the wheel of recording a rock band. However, I cannot forgive a boring song.
Maybe one day, these guys will come through with something seriously worth listening to. Until then, we’ll just have to make do with Les Claypool and Thundercat.
Notable Tracks: “Objets de Vertu”, “Ersatz”
FFO: Skyharbor, Chimp Spanner, Chon (Grow), Evan Brewer