Mika Goedrijk’s This Morn’ Omina have been plugging something of a lonely trail for many years now – fifteen, in fact. And with them now being long-time members of the Ant-Zen roster, it has to be said that even there they stand out. While many acts on the label are often harsh, noisy acts – but with a unifying theme of being forward-looking and experimental, creating their own trends rather than slavishly following others – This Morn’ Omina have continued with their unusual, heavily-tribal influenced industrial dance music.
And after fifteen years of working at it, they may have just reached a higher state – of perfection.
The third part of the “Nyan” trilogy, this is also their third double-CD release, and sees Mika take on a new member in the band alongside him (Karolus Lerocq), and the theme of the album appears to be around rebirth and reincarnation. As with most previous TMO releases, the titles appear inpenetrable at first, but a quick bit of internet research quickly reveals most of them to have religious and/or tribal connotations, mostly connected with the themes.
This rebirth takes its time, though. Make no mistake, this is a daunting listen to begin with, thirteen tracks and just shy of two hours in length makes you want to split it down into manageable chunks. Happily, thematically the album has been split in two: the first CD is more of what we’d expect from the band, the thundering tribal industrial workouts that have made their name, while the second CD seems to be more of an experimental side, where other sounds and styles gain a greater prominence. And it is to Mika and Karolus’s great credit that both sides to this are utterly, utterly brilliant.
One other thing to note – despite the great length of the album as a whole, it absolutely flys by. This is mainly down to the way the sounds and intoxicating rhythms suck you in. And right from the off, it is clear that you are in the realms of brilliance: Tanasukh builds gradually, before eventually unleashing a thrillingly complex, multi-rhythmic attack. Enuma Elish is absolutely staggering, though – the title comes from the Babylonian creation myth, and with an unusually strong emphasis on vocals to this track, said vocals whip up a fire from the storms of creation and a frankly fucking orgasmic rhythmic attack that just keeps on hitting peak after incredible peak.
After that high octane opening, nevi’im (god’s zoo) is something of a break to catch your breath – but with a heavy, lumbering beat underpinning things – before you are flung into the heart of some chaotic invocation in the form of (the) rÃ»ach (of god). By this album’s considerable standards, this is by far and away the highlight. It quickly gains pace, hitting it’s stride early, for what you think can’t get any better. But then, at about the halfway mark, it pauses for a brief moment, there are incantations, and it simply explodes into life, reaching a level that would send club and gig crowds through the ceiling, and other acts taking notes to work out how the fuck they did it. Needless to say, for full effect this needs to be played very loud indeed.
It seems to begin with, that Naphal is going to be lengthy chill-out piece, with the action seemingly taking place in the pitch dark night, but does eventually rip into life into a trancey, tribal attack. The first CD ends with the mellower Oahpse – but with a booming bass-led rhythm and some intriguing, asian-influenced sounds, it is hardly chill-out music – and then trimurti/trefoil, a pitch-dark, quite unsettling movement that appears contain quotes from Mark Twain’s Mysterious Stranger, and allows the first half of this sprawling album to end on a malevolent, sinister note.
The change in tone and style is made obvious from the first minute of Allasone, with a distinct electro-industrial feel to the sound – although the tribal elements do make an appearance, and the use of didgeridoo even reminds me of (very old) Aphex Twin. Keeping to the old-school electro feel, the quite wonderful iboga is a languid, trippy stroll with vocals that are discernable, and don’t appear to be tribal incantations this time. In fact, it’s trippy nature makes sense, seeing as the titular plant is used as a hallucinogenic drug in certain areas of Africa…
(the) sixth order is just as intriguing: an unusual, complex rhythm, apparently beaten out on various bits of metal, while shiin, a slow, moody crawl with beats purely beaten out on hand drums, actually sounds more like iVardensphere in form and feel – pretty much the only other artist in “our scene” moving in even the same solar system as This Morn’ Omina most of the time.
nigunnum is a bit of a surprise (a nigun is a form of a jewish religious song, apparently, often with repetitive sounds): a fast-paced, powerful dancefloor track, with what sounds like samples of devotional songs weaving in and out of the beats to spectacular effect (and it has another of those hurricane-force breakdowns, too). The final track tawhid is the longest of the lot (over twelve minutes!), and is the most low-key track here, and despite the odd tease that it will burst into life, it doesn’t, instead choosing to end proceedings on a darker note.
It should also be mentioned that there is also a shortform EP – effectively of dancefloor-friendly length versions of five of the tracks – but honestly, why would you want to cut these songs down? Their power is in the build, in the trancelike states they invoke.
And talking of power, this entire album is This Morn’ Omina at their absolute peak. An astonishing tour de force of tribal-industrial power, of experimentation that comes off every single time, and of building on their past work to result in an album that they will never, ever be able to top. Album of year? I’m finding it hard to believe I’ll hear anything better in the next few months.