Homegrown Ambient Music With Omit and Fuckault
Many years ago, someone handed me a scratched-up CDr with the word ‘Omit’ scrawled on the cover. I had no idea who/what/where Omit was at the time, but there was something undeniably entrancing about the dark minimalist electronics on that disc. Much of that music reminded me of the early, analog years of ambient music –– that kosmische era, which I love. But rather than being the product of some long-lost Berlin band, I eventually discovered that Omit was/is an underground electronic project helmed by reclusive New Zealand soundsculptor Clinton Williams.
It turns out that being handed a cryptic CDr from South Island-based Omit was a very apt introduction, because his mesmeric music is infused with mystery and a deep sense of isolation. Williams’ introspective explorations of the human psyche are a crucial part of Omit’s modus operandi, and he constructed his own home studio and collected a “battery of hand-made and salvaged electronic sound sources” to begin that research in the late 80s.
Omit’s made a lot of music since, most of which has been released in limited runs on cassettes, CDrs, and lathe cuts via Williams’ own Deepskin Conceptual Mindmusic label. However, scarcity combined with geographic and social remoteness hasn’t stopped Omit from gaining a widely respected reputation for creating sublime and often stark music.
Omit’s latest album, Negative Pulse Logic, is released by New Zealand’s renowned End of the Alphabet Records, and it’s Omit’s first release for an outside label in many years. Negative Pulse Logic is also the first new music I’ve heard from Omit since my ol’ CDr met its maker, many moons ago. So I was thrilled/relieved to discover that Negative Pulse Logic also features a superb set of electronic communiqués.
The album opener, “Pulse Line Hopper”, is a haunting slow-motion track echoing with the remnants of dark, deconstructed dub. The ice-cold “Klip Circle” feels like a deep dystopian meditation, and the chilling and cinematic atmospherics on “PulseSlipper” and “Flow Pusher” feel like perfect additions to a revered, albeit enigmatic, sci-fi soundtrack.
Elsewhere, “Post Driver” features hypnotic glitch ’n’ clatter, and “FlipBack” has its textured surface washed by waves of sound. Negative Pulse Logic ends with the lengthy, absorbing drone “PulseBlocker”, which is made for full and deep immersion.
It’s still no easy task sourcing Omit releases these days, so kudos to End of the Alphabet and Williams for ensuring Negative Pulse Logic is available both digitally and on cassette. It’s worth pointing out that the superb cover art on Omit’s releases is courtesy of Williams himself, and End of the Alphabet also have a 20-page zine, ReZero, that’s illustrated by Williams for sale. (There’s also an Omit live recording from 2012 available on outlier NZ label PseudoArcana’s bandcamp page.)
There’s a strong sense of solitariness, desolation, and rumination running throughout Negative Pulse Logic. It’s highly recommended for fans of minimalist sound experiments and devotees of stark ambient music alike.
Speaking of ambient sound experiments, the debut recording from Dunedin, New Zealand artist Fuckalt –– aka musician Karl Leisky –– definitely deserves a mention. (And not just because that’s one of the best band names I’ve ever heard.)
Fuckalt’s six-track digital release, Sine Works Vol.1: Organics, is a deep dive into hypnotic, ultra-minimalist waters. The calming tenor on tracks like “Linsoil” and “Minnow Flower” is tweaked with microtonal unease via the subtlest of sound manipulations. And there’s a similar mix of bliss and subliminal anxiety threading its way through “Bloody Palms/Gripping Branches”.
The finest sonic filaments hold together the beautifully fragile “Rose Flour” and “Peacemeal”. And Sine Works Vol.1: Organics finishes with “Gladiola”: a gorgeous soundscape that slowly builds with the anticipation of experiencing a captivating dawn.
Fuckalt’s Bandcamp page states that the project is “focused on noise, ambient, and the interplay between/within the two”. But it’s tension that arises and abrades the edges of some tracks here, rather than strident noise.
I hope we hear more from Fuckalt in the future, because Sine Works Vol.1: Organics is a very promising debut.