Review: OHMA – Between All Things
National Music Reviews
Between All Things
OHMA = The Cinematic Orchestra + Autechre x Blockhead
At times it can be hard to tell when and where the individual tracks in Between All Things start and stop—not because they run together, but because each track unfolds in unexpected ways. From OHMA, the duo of Mia Garcia and Hailey Niswanger, Between All Things is an astonishing set of 11 tracks, 40 minutes, that journey through soundscapes like they were open fields.
Comprising all sorts of instruments and synths, the album takes the shape of whatever urge its last moment creates. Every dozen seconds or so the music becomes something new. The first track, “Seeing Beyond What Is Here,” plants a pleasant seed from which the rest of the album can grow, beginning with a simple guitar picking melody. A choral vocal lays on top, adding structure but saying nothing in particular; and then, a noise, like something has taken off in front of you, plays as a soft saxophone begins to meander through its own melody. The guitar is now long gone, but when did that bass come in? Every track lulls me into its cadence like this. I found it impossible to not let my thoughts wander as the music’s inertia joyfully carries itself, gracefully building on the character of each preceding moment.
Sometimes that means building into moments that are utterly entrancing and feel uncrafted or “found.” There is a psychedelic quality here deriving from just how organic each new movement feels. On track nine, “A Primordial Dance,” a saxophone repeats a swelling and anxious scale, suddenly vibrating and collapsing into an infectious, chunky-ass bass line. Behind it, for a brief second, it sounds like something far away has collided with the earth. Synths drizzle over the bass line; sounds you’d expect live alongside sounds you wouldn’t. Between All Things is riddled with these moments of crescendo that feel like they just become, and they are the closest the album comes to having a hard outline. Really, it’s not amorphous—it’s just a unique shape.
Between All Things is constantly changing while managing to feel cohesive, capable of making abrupt shifts in tone without a clutch. It is playful and light, a gleefully alive album that walks and bounds through its own childlike sense of boundless security. I haven’t enjoyed an album this much front-to-back in a long time. –Parker Scott Mortensen
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