Time for another detour! One parallel narrative we've been keeping an eye on for its shedding of many of its templated tropes bestowed upon it by virtue of the very symbolic sonic language of grime. Grime 2.0 or whatever the fuck you wanna call it has withered since its apex in 2014, yet it's good, fwd-thinking soldiers like Mumdance and Logos who have been keeping things interesting via their Different Circles imprint and weightless grime aesthetic. Perhaps one of the more bewitching mutations to emerge against this background has been the continued courting being enacted between grime and ambient/beatless music.
But what is "ambient grime" if we were to advance such a notion? The rhythmic element of ambient music tends to be downplayed in favor of the more gaseous variety that seems to be perennially en vogue, but when fused with grime, an underlying pulse or grid-informed approach to progression is eventually going to come to the forefront. I've been familiar with the duo behind O$VMV$M for some time thanks to their involvement in the eleven-person Bristol-based Young Echo collective, who just released a long overdue twenty-four track synopsis of their various members' activities--members who include Vessel, Neek, Ossia, Kahn, Jabu, Ishan Sound, Manonmars, Rider Shafique, Bogues (alternatively/collectively known as) Killing Sound, Baba Yaga, Gorgon Sound and APE, to name just a few of the many members and aliases found within this enclave. Comprised of Amos Childs of Jabu and Zhou and Sam Barrett, better known as Neek of Kahn and Neek (while also a member of Gorgon Sound and Bandulu Gang).
The music Childs and Barrett make as the impossible-to-say pairing of O$VMV$M is best described, if you're going for the elevator pitch, as "astral MPC ambient grime." And as the MPC part of that description suggests, samples make up the primary sound source for the duo, the guitar flutters and cymbal crashes that sound imported directly from some jazz fusion session in 1971 that open "Oasis Weir" instantly submerging the listener in their unconventional yet instantly intelligible methodology. Second track "Backdrop" stumbles into being on the back of a ramshackle musique concréte-indebted riddim, FX and stray acoustic guitar strums filling in the negative space. It's on "The Rain," however, that O$VMV$M really hits its stride as a quixotically disembodied voice is triggered via an MPC-enabled rhythmic pulse to sing the track's title while wafting ever so gently over a slumbering 4X4 kick pattern. The toybox grime popularized by Mr. Mitch's early output gets some play on the aslant lullaby stylings of "Reverse" before the A side comes to a close via the ghost of jazzy downtempo conjured by a looped vibraphone run and a sweet, soulful vocal sample singing the track's title of "Need U."
Things continue to get most wistfully melancholic on the B side with the elegiac stylings of "Fists" paving the way for album highly "Eazy." Once again taking the shape of a bedtime serenade, a brisk kick keeps time while the triggered three-note vocal sample and naive melody hammered out on an organ-like synth patch combine into one of the intoxicating ninety seconds of music I have heard in some time. From there, the closing trifecta begins with the spiritualist mantras sung forwards and played backwards on "Yung E" that segues effortlessly into the high hat-propelled crooner of a trip-hop dirge "Sleep." A fluttering ASMR-like kick pattern serves as the backbone for the brief showstopping closer of "Somebody" whose seventy-second runtime at once feels too short and like the album's other nine tracks, leaves the listener wanting more. It's a truly singular album that speaks to this decade's penchant for leaving behind the self-imposed strictures of genre formalism in favor of music that is truly exploratory while not necessarily being easily classed as "new," as if newness is something that comes into being uninformed by what came before it.