Recently I reviewed Walter Gibbons-Jungle music, a compilation on Strut of some of Walter’s best remixes. In that article, I mentioned how his DJ-ing and remixing influenced a later generation of DJs and house producers, especially deep house producers. So, I thought that having not reviewed a house compilation for a while, I’d look at a house compilation from one of a dance label that’s consistently released quality house music since 1995, OM Records. However, there’s much more to OM Records than house music, or indeed compilations. Apart from all things house that are deep, funky and soulful, OM have released compilations that range from chill-out, broken beat and electro. As well as  compilations, OM have released albums from artists that include Dirty Vegas, Miguel Migs and Soulstice to Samantha James, Mark Farina and Groove Armada. Previously, I’ve written about some of their most popular compilation series’ including OM Lounge, Sounds of OM, House of OM and Mushroom Jazz. While these are some of OM’s best known and most successful compilations, there’s so much more to OM Records than just these compilations series. A compilation from OM Records that features all things house music is OM Beached, released in 2005, which features fourteen tracks. With tracks from Chuck Love, Afro-Mystik, Johnny Fiasco. Bebel Gilberto and Bozho, OM Beached is a quality compilation of some of the best house music from 2005, which I’ll now tell you about.

My first choice from OM Beached is Johnny Fiasco’s All Right [Double Dub]. Johnny Fiasco has featured on many OM Records compilations, including House of OM, OM Miami and OM Summer Sessions. Crispy beats, percussion and reverberating synths give way to a sweet, soulful female vocal. As the vocal drifts in and out the track, keyboards and a burst of saxophone punctuate the arrangement, while gasping backing vocalists accompany the vocal. Like the vocal, the backing vocals drift in and out of the track. Throughout the track drums, percussion, keyboards and later, horns are key to this song’s success. Truly, this is a quality slice of funky house from Johnny Fiasco, with an infectiously, catchy, uplifting sound.

Similar to my first choice Johnny Fiasco, Afro-Mystik has featured on many OM Records’ compilation, including OM Lounge, Sounds of OM and Remixed. Here, he contributes Rhythm Is, from the 2003 album Morphology, with the version chosen the Marques Wyatt Mix. The tempo is the same as the Johnny Fiasco track, 126 beats per minute, with there being other  similarities with this track. A female vocalist enters, accompanied by crunchy drumbeats, percussion and a cascading keyboard solo. Later, flourishes of keyboard augment the vocal which grows in power, becoming impassioned and emotive. Still the percussion, keyboards and drums provide a steady backdrop, allowing the vocal to take centre-stage and shine. What makes this such a great track is the combination of an excellent arrangement and powerful, emotive vocal. Together they make this deep house track, one of the highlights of OM Beached.

Chuck Love’s Something Right has a very different sound from the two previous tracks. Rasping horns, an acoustic guitar, subtle percussion and understated drumbeats give the track a Latin house sound. A male vocal enters, and it too, has a gentle sound and style. A combination of blazing horns, beats and percussion drive the track along, while the acoustic guitar and occasional keyboards add to song’s beauty. While the sound and style is quite different, one thing stays the same, the tempo. Like the two other tracks, it’s 126 beats per minute. However, that’s the only similarity with a track that has a gorgeous understated and laid-back sound and  Latin influence. One thing it does have in common with the two other tracks is quality.

Another track with a real Latin influence is Bebel Gilberto’s River Song, which was released in 2004. Here, the Grant Nelson Mix features on OM Beached. Although the tempo is only 122 beats per minute, the track seems quicker. Bebel’s has a beautiful and emotive vocal, which is accompanied by a proliferation of percussion, crispy beats, woodwind and blazing horns. Her lilting vocal is enveloped in the exotic, Latin and jazz tinged arrangement where horns, percussion, vibes and later, booming steel drums all feature. This is one of these tracks, one that mixes Latin ad jazzy house, giving the track a really uplifting, feel-good sound, one that’s totally irresistible.

Only U by Uneaq is another deep house track to feature on OM Beached. It sees pounding beats, reverberating synths and percussion combine before a joyful female vocal enters. The beats are crisp and loud, while percussion and an acoustic guitar all play important parts in the arrangement. Later a searing, sizzling guitar weaves its way across the arrangement, while delay and then filters are used. Thankfully, both are used sparingly, and not overused. They’re effectively used at the end of the track, heightening the sense of drama and anticipation, when the vocal is enveloped in filters and delay. SImilarly to other tracks on OM Beached, this track features an acoustic guitar, which works well with the percussion, giving the track a Spanish or Latin feel and providing a contrast to the pounding beats. Overall, Only U has a really contemporary, summery sound and feel, one that makes you dream of long, hot summers days lying on a warm beach. 

My final choice from OM Beached is the final track on the compilation Bozho’s Just Let Go, which has the type of sound you’d expect from a track released on either OM Records or Naked Music. A beautiful, lush sounding female vocal is accompanied by stabs of keyboard, percussion and crispy beats. Synths meander in and out of the arrangement, while the vocal is enveloped in echo and delay. Later, the drums have a punchy sound, with just percussion accompanying them, when the keyboards and vocal drops out. This changes the sound slightly, but by then the  tracks drawn you in, winning you over with its beauty and charms. Of the fourteen tracks on OM Beached, this luscious slice of soulful house one of the very best.

Having spent some time listening to OM Beached, I’m pleased to say that it has the quality you’d expect from a compilation released by OM Records. There’s a variety of styles of house music on OM Beached. Whether you’re a fan of deep, funky, jazzy, Latin or soulful house, there’s something here for you. From the jazz and Latin tinged track from Bebel Gilberto, to Johnny Fiasco’s funky house, Afro-Mystik’s deep house and the soulful house of Bozho, this is an eclectic compilation of the finest quality house music. From the first track, right through to the last track, the quality of music is consistently high. Not once do you ever skip a track, instead, you’re compelled to pay close attention to some of the best house music you could hope to hear. Why OM Records never released OM Beached Volume 2 seems strange. Given how many great artists they have on their roster, surely they could’ve found another fourteen tracks of a similar quality. However, for anyone wanting to explore OM Records’ back-catalogue, there’s plenty of great music to choose from. If it’s house you love, then you’ve the House of OM, Sounds of OM and OM Miami to choose from. Should you prefer something a bit more laid-back and chilled out, then there’s OM Lounge and Mushroom Jazz waiting for you. Overall, there’s a veritable feast of quality music waiting for you in OM Records back-catalogue, including OM Beached, a wonderful compilation of all things house. Standout Tracks: Johnny Fiasco’s All Right [Double Dub], Aftro-Mystic Rhythm Is, Uneaq Only U and Bozho Just Let Go.


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