Born in the 90s out of Chicago’s thriving underground house scene, Omni A.M.is synonymous with genre-defining house music, as well as their cult imprint Euphoria Records, which has released music from the likes of Mark Ambrose, Terry Francis and Freaky Chakra.
Recently, Omni A.M. returned to their label with special, remastered versions of two of their biggest tracks, ‘Beat Dis’ and ‘Dangerous’. The former, you mat remember, originally featured on Craig Richards & Lee Burridge’s Tyrant 2 Fabric mix, while the latter first appeared on iconic wax only imprint Swag as sultry slow burner. Here, Omni A.M builds a sonic story of the year of their first releases, 1997, with an exclusive playlist of the year’s most influential tracks and albums….can’t believe it’s been 20 years! On the playlist Omni A.M says:
In 1997 electronic music was drastically changing. New equipment, digital tools and emerging sounds from Europe and the US were all making noise at the same time. Omni A.M. was finishing the first album, Key, our Euphoria parties were in full effect and Chicago was the spot. These are songs we were playing then, now and have stood the test of time.
Any song that jumps right into the groove in the first few beats is going to be a hit. Damn, that bassline, vocal and little piano riff are the perfect combo to get things moving. At the time of this release, house sound was paramount and the French owned it. Marky brought this record into our lives and rocked it in every set. When we moved out of the first Euphoria house, Marky gave me his copy of the 10 inch and it’s one of my favorite pieces of vinyl to this day.
One day our label partner Corey came home with a one-sided, dark green 10 inch. We stared blankly, with our mouths open, watching it go round and round. Pretty sure the three of us, (like many others) would be in awe of this record. It’s a masterpiece. The music and vocal here are like nothing else then and since. It’s just got so much feeling. They must have known they had a hit when they were jamming on this. This is a song for date night.
Svek is and will always be my favorite player in the game for minimal tech. When this song came out, the production and dubby sound was unmatched by other labels. It was new and they did it first. This is after hours, dark room, volume at 13, balloons if ya got ‘em. I’m still trying to get this sound today. Effortless.
Crucial was the stripped down and minimal offshoot of Chicago’s Guidance Records. Seeing the offices, release history on the walls and having our Omni A.M. demo rejected by the label made them even more legendary and what Euphoria aspired to be. More by Projam does not do much and can miss the mark with the crowd, but it also has the attitude and sound that work the speakers and room for you. This is the perfect song to kick off a Sunday set at The Panther Room.
By now everyone knows Cab Drivers and Cabinet Records, rightfully so. But in 1997 we felt amazing finding this label because no one (who we knew in America) was onto this style yet. German minimal/techno was not the norm in Chicago and that’s why this record was an incredible find and different sound than what we we’re used to. Match this with the Pro Jam and Svek and you have a totally new sound (in 1997) that’s minimal but active. These guys are way ahead of the curve – it’s amazing that they have gotten the recognition they deserve.
I picked up this record and played it approximately 50 billion times. I never heard anything like it and decided to call the phone number on the record. We’ve been friends ever since.
If you’re confused about the original tech house sound, you can realign here. Mark is one of the pioneers and his style falls closer to techno. The added deepness, lush pads and open 909 hat reflect his love of Chicago House. My favorite part is when the arpeggio / modern acid sound opens up around 4 minutes and he does all the expression with the held and higher notes. Mark has a pure and honest sound.
This songs embodies everything that was right about dance music in the late 90s. I can’t really take credit for that statement because Dave Mothersole said it online somewhere and he’s right. I might have looked for about four years to find another copy before online times. Everything Luxury Service did was special and different. From the sound to the art, I just wanted to get as much of it as I could.
I close my eyes and see Derrick Carter destroying Shelter in Chicago with this one. Peak of the party, he’s dancing, singing and playing it at the same time. This song is a jam.
This is my favorite record on the massively influential DiY label. The best part is the infectiously catchy mid-range hook. I love the part at 4:10 when the song empties to the hook, pad and vocal. This is the classic late 90s drop – short and back into the tune. No nonsense. DiY is another label I was calling asking for copies and more info. Sometimes you’d call a number and never break the language barrier, which was pretty hysterical. In this case I got the usual response, who are you and we’re sold out. Whatever the response, never stop trying.
Filter house was a massively popular style at the time of this release. Just like anything else you can spot authentic and faking it – Freaks’ filter remix is the extreme of doing it right. The push and pull here is raw and on point. But wait there’s more – Carl Craig and Derrick Carter also appear on the EP. A highly curated listening experience – there’s only so much time you can cut into the record – and all quality here.
To wrap this set up, if we can invite you to listen (in-depth) to one artist with us, it would be The Orb. We put this on for the chillout, road trip, cleanup or departure from four on the floor. Ubiquity is but one song on the full length journey, Orblivion. I can’t even describe the textures in this song – you’ll just have to listen. The Orb is one of the biggest influences on Omni A.M.’s sound and both Marky and I would encourage you to explore their whole catalog. If one person out there has yet to discover The Orb, sharing is what this music thing is all about. And, if you know them already, we can appreciate this sonic complexity and beauty together. No one creates a world quite like the The Orb does.
“Beat Dis/Dangerous” is NOW AVAILABLE on Euphoria Records