Recorded over six-days in August 2019, Ohmme’s Fantasize Your Ghost follows in the wake of a busy touring period after the release of their debut album Parts. Ohmme (Macie Stewart and Sima Cunningham) met “in the summer of 2014, combining their love for lush vocals and songwriting with their love of experimentation and sound.”
That love of experimentation and sound is very much to the fore on this album. The opening track ‘Flood Your Gut’ has an enjoyably unsettling repeated guitar phrase that runs through the verses and on ‘Selling Candy’ there’s a swirling feel as the harmonies resonate against a repeated burst of guitar shockwaves and rolling drums that give the feeling of been spun to the point of nausea on a merry-go-round. Then there are tracks like ‘Ghost’ and ‘The Limit’ which tread a more conventional path and reminded me of Lucius (another duo that excel at close harmonies) but even ‘Ghost’ can’t help but slap aside the catchy hooks and tunefulness with some scatter-gun bursts of guitar. There are also calmer moments, like the clockwork lullaby of ‘Spell It Out’, the buoyant dreamscape of ‘Twitch’ or the soporific Warpaint-like drift of ‘Some Kind of Calm’. I’d also like to make a notable mention to the track ‘ 3 2 4 3’ which has to be one of the few songs that, if my musical counting is correct, takes its name from the two time-signatures used throughout: 3/2 for the verses and 3/4 for the choruses.
But it’s the two final songs on the album, ‘Sturgeon Moon’ and ‘After All’, that intrigued me the most as they couldn’t be further apart. Not only on the Ohmme song-spectrum but also in terms of the other songs on the album. ‘Sturgeon Moon’ is an atonal melange of pops, clicks, judders and pyroclastic bursts of effects-laden guitar and it sounds like an improvised studio jam whereas closing track ‘After All’ has a 60s mainstream vibe that wouldn’t be out of place on a Doris Day album (and was reminiscent of Ben E. King’s ‘Spanish Harlem’). I really enjoyed trying to get my head around both tracks and had to go back a few times to make sure my media player hadn’t randomly picked out two other acts after ‘Some Kind of Calm’.
There’s a gentle menace to Ohmme’s music; a scuffed-up take on popular music that would be number one in the charts on Summerisle. Like something disturbing glimpsed in the corner of your eye they play with convention and, alongside the often-askew arrangements, their tunes tunnel under the instruments one minute and soar and swoop above the next. Ohmme’s ability to take the road less travelled is a fine quality and one that made repeat listening to Fantasize Your Ghost a pleasure.
The album is out now on Joyful Noise Recordings.
Review by Paul F Cook