Ohmme are an experimental and eclectic duo from Chicago, made up of Sima Cunningham and Marci Stewart. They are both classically trained pianists and accomplished multi-instrumentalists, with a variety of projects behind them. However, the pair swapped the piano for a simple set up of guitar, vocals and percussion, feeling the desire to break away from “the exactness of classical music and make some noise with a guitar”, which they certainly do with Parts.
Parts, their second album, released on the 24th of August, is a fun, experimental record with a myriad of intriguing elements. Each track is distinct, while still retaining the themes that make up the duo’s unique sound: their ethereal harmonies, their singing in unison, the dynamic melodies and distorted guitar sound.
‘Icon’, which they released as a single, is a poppy, upbeat and lively album opener. The guitar is simple, with just a two-chord riff being looped, which could get boring if it wasn’t for the staccato vocals leaping around above it.
The melody is uplifting and catchy, particularly the chorus where they repeat, “I wanna new icon” and subtly change the rhythm each time. They sing up and down the scale to create a captivating melody — you can clearly recognise their musical influences of St Vincent and Old Projectors in this one. The video that accompanies the song is equally colourful and playful, with the duo staring seriously into the camera while surrounded by bright balloons, celebrating a dog’s birthday.
‘Water’, on the contrary, is a dark and jarring track. Opening with a discordant chord followed by a thick, “stagnant” distorted bass note and the pair singing in unison; it’s a strange but powerful song. Despite its dark sound, the melody and vocals are quite upbeat and the melody very catchy, particularly the random vocal panning effect in the chorus.
They also have some slower songs. My favourite track of the album, ‘Liquor Cabinet’, is one of these. It’s grungy, sinister and dark. The harmonies and intertwining guitars give it a slightly folky feel, making it sound a cross between Warpaint, Violent Femmes and Patti Smith. The lyrics mirror the music well, with its descriptive and creepy lyrics: “wise man there’s a tremble in your hand, rapid tapping on the table”.
Similarly, ‘Left Handed’ is a dreamy, sleepier track, however the energy slowly builds and erupts into a fantastic instrumental and guitar solo at the end, for me, a highlight of the album.
Overall, Parts shows how eclectic the duo are. Whilst many artists find their niche and stick to it, Ohmme aren’t afraid to try new things and experiment with different genres, whilst still drawing on their strengths. Whether it’s poppy and energetic, or slow and grungy, they can pull it off. Their impeccable harmonies and interesting experimental sound makes them a band to watch.
Image courtesy of the artist