Om Unit Violet

Om Unit Violet
7
Active since the early 2000s, UK producer Jim Coles has released material as 2Tall, Philip D Kick and, perhaps most prolifically, Om Unit. Arriving a little over a year after 2017's full-length Self (which saw Coles adding a decidedly more cinematic backdrop to his skittering, skeletal beats), the Violet EP is a more minimal effort, focused on immaculately produced beats and empty spaces.
 
It makes for a somewhat austere experience that may appeal more to those with a special interest in production technique and beat-making than to the average listener, but these are well-made tracks nonetheless, and are especially rewarding heard through a good pair of headphones.
 
An avowed explorer of the generic fringes, Coles works here under the umbrella of bass music, an amorphous genre that probably reaches as far back as early hip-hop and breaks-based music, but is mostly known as a grab-bag of dubstep, drum & bass, jungle and footwork idioms. Coles' take on the style is a classy one: leaving behind dubstep's obnoxious yo-yo synths while retaining its nimble percussion; keeping alive the dancehall spirit of jungle and drum & bass via some well-placed samples and rhythms, but sparing us their endless repetition; and definitely providing that sweet sub-bass rumble made to rattle your dashboard.
 
Seriously, listening to this through tiny speakers is missing the point, as it's obviously designed to exercise the spectrum of fidelity, with deep bass hits and crisp snares treated with just the right amount of reverb to give them an almost ethereal presence when things are cranked to the right level. Final track "Sleeping Dragon" is the definite highlight here, a quietly aggressive cut that pushes the style's drum & bass DNA to the fore with a beat that, once it arrives in its fullest, commands the head to bob.
 
It's also the lushest track here, an element the rest of the EP could sometimes use a little more of — opening track "Righteousness" has an excellent beat, to be sure, but it boasts little else, and remaining tracks "City Lights" and "Shackup" are only made better by the icy strings and well-placed flourishes that Coles adds to the proceedings. To err on the side of restraint is better than its opposite however; this is solid stuff. (Independent)