Ohm


Ohm

Ohm - Ohm ©2003 Grooveyard Records
1. Peanut Buddha
2. Where's My Hat?
3. Id
4. Love Song
5. Came To Believe
6. Between Us
7. Iguana
8. Sister Cheryl
9. Brandenburg Gate
10. Bastille Day
11. Mountain
12. Search For The Suicide King
13. Ohmage

Imagine that you're a monkey raised in New York City. You go about your daily business, fairly well-adjusted, but in the back of your little hairy head there lingers a strange feeling that something about your life isn't quite right. Then, one day, an unexpected combination of circumstances lands you in a lush forest filled with banana trees and dozens of other friendly monkeys, and no taxi cabs.

Ohm is an instrumental rock/metal/fusion power trio featuring Chris Poland (ex-Megadeth, among other things), Robby Pagliari on bass, and David Eagle on drums, and their music is unlike anything you've heard before. The first Ohm show I attended was very much like being dropped in the aforementioned forest, and now you can take an infinite supply of bananas home with you when you obtain this fantastic CD.

"So what do they sound like?" you ask. Imagine the most melodic instrumental rock/fusion with sublime musicianship, beautifully unpredictable note choices, osmotic interplay, extraordinary sounds, and the ultimate "touch", and you'll still be underestimating them. Each of the players is a master of expressiveness and dynamics, and none ever overplays; fills, embellishments, solos and runs are always tasteful and never get in the way of the music. Unlike most instrumental power trios, Ohm never sounds like a showcase by three gifted virtuosos (which they undeniably are), and always like an ideal combination of taste, supreme musicianship, and the wisdom to let the music breathe and the other players express themselves. David Eagle's drum tracks, all recorded live with no overdubs, often sound like a percussionist is accompanying the drummer ("Id"); Robby Pagliari's six-string fretless bass playing is both understated and absolutely essential, filling out the lower-end with titanium-solid rhythms and playing a vital part in the songs' melodic heads, bridges and choruses; and Chris Poland's guitar playing can be tear-jerkingly expressive, jaw-droppingly melodic or mind-bogglingly complex, but always remains truly his own. Simply put, nobody plays like these three.

It seems almost pointless to try to capture in words the melodicism of each of these tracks; let's just say that they all sound like true songs, as opposed to the standard rock/fusion instrumental format, while giving fans of virtuoso playing plenty to chew on. Fans of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, modern fusion, Brand X, Eric Johnson, Shawn Lane, Poland's solo material, Brett Garsed, Allan Holdsworth and other luminaries should all enjoy this record, but keep in mind that this album does not sound like any of them. Ohm is special.

Ohm fans waited for this album for many, many months, and the wait was amply rewarded. It has moved to the top of my desert island list, and I have burned multiple copies in case I scratch my original. That's how good this album is. You can order it now from Grooveyard Records.

Review by Rog The Frog Billerey-Mosier

Review date: 05/2003

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Live On KPFK 90.7 FM

Ohm - Live On KPFK 90.7 FM ©2004 Lion Music
1. KPFK Intro/M. Torres
2. Terra Incognita
3. Came To Believe
4. Photograph
5. Peanut Buddha
6. Icarus Falls
7. You Don't Know
8. Iguana
9. Tara
10. Id
11. Where's My Hat?
12. KPFK Outro: Mark Torres
13. KSPC Intro/T. Palkovic
14. Jam At Tony's
15. KSPC Outro

What are you doing reading this? Go order this record. Now. Yes, right now. NOW, dammit. Then we'll talk.

Ok. Good. So let me entertain you while you anxiously wait for your mail carrier to deliver this extraordinary album. You deserve it, since you ordered the record. You did order it, right?

AWWW COME ON NOW. I don't have all day.

That's better. So why did I so vehemently command you to obtain this album? Easy: Ohm in general, and this live record in particular, are arguably the reason why the recording of sound was invented. Ohm is a rock/fusion instrumental power trio featuring ex-Megadeth Chris Poland on guitar, 6-string-fretless-bass demon Robby Pagliari and Kofi Baker (yes, that Baker) on drums, and they happen to be the most inspiring, musical, melodic, virtuosic and exciting band in the universe. While their first album was absolutely stunning in its own right as a studio version of their sublime instrumental rock/fusion, those in the know were pining for an album that would capture one of Ohm's devastating live performances - and here it is, albeit without the benefit of an audience swooning in rapture and with the distraction of a DJ who talks a little too much.

I gave up trying to describe Ohm's music years ago, as they are truly one of a kind, and cheap allusions to other musicians only highlight the fact that nobody plays anything remotely similar to Ohm's melodic-yet-rocking fusion/rock. The track listing on this live record combines songs off of their first studio album (the superb "Peanut Buddha" and "Iguana") with older compositions old Ohm fans had been wishing for recordings of for years (the sublime "Icarus Falls", in particular), and gives each player plenty of space to blow up the radio station with their jaw-dropping talent. This is not gonzo shredding (although there's plenty of that to go around; the guitar solo in "Peanut Buddha" and the bass and drums in "Iguana" are simply eye-popping): this is mature virtuosity at its best. Poland's unique note choice, phrasing and touch shine throughout every song, with a restraint few other players ever decide to exercise; but the most striking aspect of this recording is the amazing set of bass and drum performances Pag and Kofi deliver. The compositions and performances are so stellar one is forced to utter profanity every two minutes in utter awe.

When I finally decide to leave the annoyance of civilization and buy my own island, I'll bring seventeen copies of this CD. So go get your own before I buy every single copy in existence in case mine wears out. You'll thank me later.

Review by Rog The Frog Billerey-Mosier

Review date: 08/2004

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Amino Acid Flashback

©2005 Rotten Records
1. DaVainci
2. Tara
3. William's Amino Acid Flashback
4. What If...
5. Joog In Da Boot
6. Compass Of The Heart
7. Icarus Falls
8. Rooms Of The Telemetry
9. Skint
10. Spun
11. Tattoo

Writing reviews of Ohm records is tricky. You see, Ohm isn't just a great band. They happen to make the most exciting and brilliant music and deliver the most riveting performances I have ever encountered - mediocrity is simply not in their vocabulary. They're so off-the-charts you quickly run out of superlatives, and no amount of hyperbole can do them justice.

Amino Acid Flashback, Ohm's third record, features mostly new compositions, together with a handful of older favorites. Drummer Kofi Baker's influence on the band's writing is quite apparent in the newer tunes, which highlight Kofi's taste for interesting time signatures and complex double bassdrum and cymbal work. Some of the new pieces ("Spun", "Skint") have a feverish, busy intensity that sets them apart from the somewhat more melodic older material ("Tara", "Icarus Falls") and showcases the band's tighter-than-Travolta's-pants interplay. The riffy, angular "Joog in da Boot" doesn't really have a traditional melody line, but it culminates in an epic guitar solo that begs to be played over and over just for the sheer joy of its inspired execution and wind-in-your-face panache.

That's not to say that Ohm's trademark melodicism takes a back seat to skin-of-your-teeth displays of virtuosity - quite the contrary. Rocking fusion workouts alternate with more tuneful, hummable songs, and pieces like the ballad "Compass of the Heart", with its extended melody delivered with supreme sensitivity and subtlety, or the closer "Tattoo", send shivers down the ol' spine in traditional Ohm fashion. The six-string fretless bass often takes over primary melodic duties, and Pag's performances are alternatingly subdued and over-the-top, but always spot-on.

The record's overall sound is slightly warmer, brighter and more polished than it was on the band's previous two albums. The instruments' tones are significantly closer to the glorious wall of sound that characterizes Ohm's live shows, and refreshingly free of the traditional chorus washes that plague so many fusion records - imagine what Allan Holdsworth might sound like if he hung out with the cool kids with the Cream records, and you may not be too far off.

Ohm was a safe bet for the album-of-the-year title in 2005, and they delivered another extraordinary album that's head, shoulders, pelvis, kneecaps and toenails above everything else.

Review by Rog The Frog Billerey-Mosier

Review date: 04/2006

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Circus of Sound

Ohm - Circus of Sound ©2008 Fun House
1. Fun House
2. System of a Clown
3. Photograph
4. Circus of Sound
5. Point Omega
6. Abracadabra
7. The Shortest Straw
8. The Black Hand
9. You Don't Know
10. Steps From Home
11. Mr. Brown (For James Brown)
12. DD 214
13. Leap Of Faith
14. Pan's Plan

If you've read my reviews of Ohm:'s previous records, you know my objectivity vis--vis these guys is questionable, since I think they're the best thing since Link Wray invented guitar distortion. That said, they are the best instrumental fusion band ever, and their latest album, Circus of Sound, is hands-down the best instrumental fusion record that came out last year.

Unlike Ohm:'s earlier records, Circus of Sound features three drummers with distinctive styles (although they're a tad undermixed and harder to tell apart than you might want), but the songs are distinctly Ohm:-esque, with unusual melodies and chord voicings, superb playing, and finger-burning passages, all contributing to a varied, beautiful and exciting instrumental album.

The band is departing slightly from the harder-edged direction of Amino Acid Flashback's "Spun" and "Skint" and allowing its more consistently melodic instincts to surface, as on the Irish-jig-like "Steps From Home", the old classic "Photograph", the Weather Report-esque "Pan's Plan" or the gorgeous "Leap of Faith", which recalls "Mercy" off Poland's solo album Chasing the Sun. That's not to say there aren't plenty of harmonic and digital acrobatics throughout the record ("The Black Hand")--there's just more for you to hum and whistle.

The production is a step up from the band's previous albums, with a more uniform sound throughout and instrument tones inching ever closer to the band's supreme live sound; I'd just like more, ahem, cowbell next time.

Review by Rog The Frog Billerey-Mosier

Review date: 03/2009

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