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Om Unit
Flux Nick Roseblade , December 1st, 2021 09:24

With deep basslines and skittering beats, Om Unit goes from strength to strength on his latest EP, finds Nick Roseblade

I can remember the first time I heard Om Unit. I was working for an electronic music booking agency. I won’t say their name. They went under about a decade ago, but you might have heard of them. Despite my love of the music they represented, it wasn’t a very nice place to work. One day, after a pretty stressful morning, a piece of music was playing on a colleague’s computer. It was one of many pieces of music playing from a number of computers that moment. I swirled around on my chair and asked who, and what, it was. The answer was “Its Jim’s new EP Aeolin”. I must have listened to that EP for the majority of the afternoon, and it turned out into an ok afternoon.

The Jim in question was Jim Coles and Aeolin was released under his Om Unit moniker.

Listening to his new EP Flux just under a decade after my first exposure to his music I’m struck with a feeling of nostalgia, but also with a sense of how far Coles has come musically. ‘Process’ starts Flux with a vocal sample of “Compression. Reflection. Image. Knowledge. Conviction.” while Vangelis-esque synths float from the speakers. It feels like Coles is saying “I’m going to ease you in here. No sudden jumps. Just a nice serene opening track”. It works. Which makes ‘Angels’, with its stuttering breakbeats, rhythmic bleeps along with catchy melody standout even more. And this what makes Flux such an enjoyable listen. Just when you think you know what Coles is going to do next, he changes texture, and tempo, and we’re off some at breakneck speed. ‘Ramp’ feels like classic Om Unit. Deep bassline, skittering beats, and a killer melody.

The standout track is the EP’s closer ‘Autumn Shadows’. The first thing that strikes you about the song is the lack of beats. This isn’t anything new, but compared to the previous five tracks, their omission makes it stand out. Listening to ‘Autumn Shadows’ while writing this review its hard to fathom why it struck more of a chord than ‘Ramp’, for example. Maybe its down to how, on the surface, it feels really simplistic. The song consists of a number of staggered synth loops that run over each other. The loops aren’t the same but are similar enough that make them sound alike. Combined you notice the similarities. They gel together so well. When they overlap unintentional ripples appear giving the song more of a bite than ‘Process’ and something more abstract to latch onto than the conventional ‘Ramp’.

What Flux shows is that Coles hasn’t lost his ear for a killer melody, but he has expanded his palate to include slightly more dubby motifs in his broken beat arsenal. Let’s hope that Coles explores this sound more on future releases as it feels like he’s on the cusp of releasing something truly exceptional. For a while now he has released awesome singles, 2020’s ‘Exodus’ was a career high, but that ‘classic’ album has alluded him. Hopefully this will be remedied soon when Coles releases something that both fluxes and flexes.