“Reflective, haunted by something and praying for absolution, then realizing that you had the power to change it all along”
In the last decade, the rapid advancements in technology effectively changed the channels of publishing and promoting music. A plethora of artists and smaller net labels emerged to fill in the new creative space, as it became significantly easier and cost-effective to set up a label and release new music without the restrictions of manufacturing and distribution. In a brave new world of endless possibilities opportunity is a double-edged sword, but that’s a topic for a future post.
One of those labels that have consistently carried the torch of atmospheric drum & bass is Omni Music. The ‘yin & yang’ logo encompasses the vision and ethos of the label: the symbol of dualism, the vicious pendulum between light and dark, reality and fiction, hope and despair, where seemingly contradicting forces actually interconnect and counterbalance. Omni gradually evolved beyond the confines of tempo and genres representing a sound and movement that never really went away; just moved on the fringes of the scene and re-surfaced with a modern twist.
I have the pleasure to host Chris Wright (aka Eschaton), music producer, writer and founder of the label to discuss his latest album with Parallel and the Omni Music canon.
A prolific producer and an avid fan of the album format, Chris Wright has released more than 20 long players – solo or in collaboration with other artists (the ‘PM:AM’ LP is his 21st). The majority of his works is intended to be heard as a continuous narrative rather than a generic selection of tracks. Concepts and themes usually revolve around science fiction, cosmology objects and dynamics, real and imaginary travels, as well as the mysteries of the universe that have inspired human imagination for centuries. His affinity for sci-fi literature and cult horror films is demonstrated in his latest venture; book writing. The first two novellas of his ‘Survival’ series are out now and the third and final volume of the trilogy is due soon. Are your senses deceiving you?
Omni Music was established in 2011. Initially a platform to release and promote Eschaton’s own material (‘The Quantum’ series) the label soon became a creative hub for like-minded artists expanding the label’s scope and vision; yet that venerated 90s atmospheric sound has always been in the epicenter. Almost 10 years later Omni Music proudly showcases an extensive back catalogue from a wide array of new-comers, as well as veterans of the scene.
Omni Music logo and rebranding
Our culture of distraction and minimal attention span seems unrelenting on burying new releases beneath an endless scroll. In January 2017, Omni Music adopted a new logo and digital poster template designed by Warrick Sears, which has made each Omni release instantly recognizable.
“Yes, the change in artwork came about by chance, due to a meeting on a forum. When I started discussing it with Warrick, he was guiding me from the viewpoint of being a professional designer. As we discussed it, we came to the conclusion that even though Omni had released vinyl, its primary audience was still digital, so we needed something that would stand out. His idea was that the simpler and more recognizable the template, the more likely someone who knows the label would see it, even as a small picture on a sale store. So, instead of being buried within a confusing jumble of releases, it would stand out instantly and be noticed. He designed a white version and a black version; whichever is used depends on the image for the art itself that we decide on. I’m very happy with what he did, as he took the original yin/yang element from the old basic logo and allowed that to be more prominent. The yin/yang was very subtle with the old basic design, yet now it’s clear to see and integral to the ‘brand’. Thanks Warrick!”.
Omni Music catalogue numbering
If the various Omni catalogue number pre-fixes seem confusing, here’s a breakdown:
OMNIZEROxx: The first releases that were free (hence the ‘zero’)
OMNIEPxx: The regular EP releases
OMNIxx: The regular LP’s
OHMxx: The Ohm Series offshoot, that was ambient/techno and so on
OHMNIxx: LP’s that are mainly compilations of earlier hard to get material, and re-discovered projects, rather than the regular LP’s that by and large contain brand new material (with the exception of the recent retrospective Sky High LP’s etc)
Eschaton & Parallel feat. Nashira Voices – PM:AM LP (Omni Music, OMNI079, 2020)
Written and produced by Chris Wright (Eschaton) & Brandon Burger (Parallel)
Vocals on Tracks 2, 4 & 15 by Snezana Oljaca (Nashira Voices)
Guitar on Tracks 1, 3, 5 & 15 by Will Plowman
Released August 16, 2020
Copyright 2020 Omni Music
‘PM:AM’ is the sequel to Eschaton & Parallel’s 2010 LP (AM:PM, Digibeat Music, DBMCD001, 2010). Being based in different continents and time zones the titles are a hint to their working routine. Chris explains:
“That’s actually the secret to the title. The original was called ‘AM:PM’, because it would be evening for me and morning for him (Brandon) when we were chatting and sorting stuff out through AIM, so each of us did our production at a different time of day. We sat there, once this sequel was finished, musing over what we could call it, coming up with some pretty daft names, until we decided that it made sense just to flip the title of the original the other way around. It’s not very original, but it was better than ‘Space Chimps’ or whatever other odd name we came up with. Anyway, to answer your question, it’s just a case of swapping files with each other, and discussing what the other person would like to hear. With the first LP, it was quite common for Brandon to just send me a completed beat track, with all the edits, FX and builds in the breaks as he wanted; sometimes with basslines and sometimes not. Then I would sit down and compose the musical parts around them. This project was slightly different though. It worked either with me sending him just a basic beat track and telling him to do some fancy stuff with it, whatever he wanted, or I would send him the almost finished musical elements of the track and asked him to try and work on the beats in a certain way. Without the internet of course, neither album would have ever been made”.
A question I usually ask my guests when an album is finished and released to public and critical acclaim is: “Are there any plans for a sequel/follow up?” I have received a variety of replies, which I find very interesting (and intriguing). Some producers are relieved and desperate to move on to fresh pastures, some leave intentionally a cliffhanger ending to foreshadow a sequel and others have second thoughts whether something has been left unsaid. Although Eschaton and Parallel continued to work together after their first LP, it took ten years to come up with a follow up.
“We never discussed a follow up, but continued to work together. We released a couple of collaborative (and fairly experimental) EP’s on Omni, as well as the occasional track on a compilation album. Brandon also appeared on a few of my own solo LP’s; most notably my ‘Producer’ album on Advection Music and the ‘Icaros’ LP. So, we continued to collaborate. Then, around two years ago, I suggested that we do a second album and he agreed. It took a decade to finally write a follow up, because we were both busy with other projects too. I was running the label then and producing (endless lol) EP’s and LP’s and Brandon was busy with his ‘A Cosmic Gift’ work, as well as working with the amazing ‘Relapse’. So, it was just a case of being busy on so much stuff that we never got more than an EP’s worth of material together. Even after we agreed to do it, we were both busy again. Brandon was working constantly; I was still doing what I could with the label, as well as starting to write novels, so the project was always bubbling away in the background. I would tinker with a few ideas here and there and then leave them alone again. It was only once the pandemic started and we were all in lockdown that I looked at the project again and felt that surely now was as good a time as any to finally finish it. By then, I had a large collection of tracks that had been thrown into the project folder, some almost finished, others very basic, so the original project had grown into a much larger concept. I originally thought it would be between 10 and 12 tracks, but it quickly came clear that we had more than that, and as we worked well with each other, the LP eventually contained them all (well not quite all, there were a few duds, as well as a corrupted project that refused to load back up)“.
Album Concept & Vision
“We wanted to create something that would stand the test of time, instead of just being forgotten about a few years down the line; which is very difficult with the huge variety of music now being released. I also wanted to stand out a little from the norm, which I guess you could say about a lot of the strange stuff I make! I had a vision of a spacey semi half-time/semi breakbeat journey. I didn’t want to just do the same old thing. A lot of my work is themed around either inner or outer space. My ‘Drum and Space’ series was obviously themed on the cosmos. ‘Icaros’, ‘Quantum 1’ and ‘Omega Point’ were themed more about the internal universe, the world of shamanism, quantum mechanics and psychedelia. This LP I think meanders more into the philosophical/shamanic and entheogenic in its themes. It also has many different layers and if you listen closely you may pick up something that was unnoticeable before”.
The eerie, almost mournful voice of Serbian singer Nashira Voices (Snezana Oljaca) featuring on the tracks ‘Drifting Through Memories’, ‘Absorbed’ and ‘Waiting for Tomorrow’ capture feelings of regret, longing, desolation and loss, which gracefully fit within the album’s framework.
“I always liked her haunting voice and I have had the pleasure of having worked with her before on a remix of an Aural Imbalance track as well as on ‘Melotte 15’, which was a track made in tribute to Jay Le Roc and featured on ‘Drum and Space Volume 3’. I would have liked her to feature more on this, as her ethereal voice gives any track an emotional boost. Unfortunately, she is very busy as a mother and with work; there are only so many hours in the day. The tracks she features on were generally worked around her vocals instead of the other way around, so it was a slightly different way to how we normally do it. I’d love to work with her again in the future and we are always in touch, so hopefully that will happen”.
Track by Track – What the sleeve notes never tell you
As always in this blog series, instead of a generic track-by-track review, I’ve made an ambitious and theatrical attempt to capture the imagery and purpose of each track within a stream of thought. Sometimes I got close, sometimes nowhere near, but I firmly believe that the redemptive power of music is to invoke different emotions and interpretations. Enter stage right Eschaton narrates the background story/tag-line (comments in blue font) for every album track.
The Infinite Sphere, the centre of which is everywhere, and the circumference nowhere, the geometric representation of divinity.
“The cycle/circle of life and the universe – the changing of the seasons which we all flow through without our own conscious will”.
- Drifting Through Memories
Looking at an old photo album, the colours have faded into sepia and the memories are blurred. What happened and what might have happened is no longer distinguishable.
“Cherishing experiences that are dear to us – Sometimes even the darkest experience can evolve and flourish into something you could never have imagined”.
‘Eleusis’ is a Greek word that means ‘arrival’. It is also a town in the outskirts of the capital city Athens dating to ancient Greece and most famous for its annual festival of the Mysteries in honour of Olympian goddess Demeter and her daughter and queen of the underworld Persephone. The eponymous hero of the town was a son of Hermes and the Oceanid Daeira.
“Ritualistic origins – a deep connection to history and our future”.
One’s own isolated micro-universe where personal troubles, hopes and fears are magnified.
“Absorbed by dread and fear; one that intensifies. These fears sometimes stay hidden, but other times they bubble up and manifest in our daily lives, absorbing us”.
External and internal spaces are nothing but two aspects of one geometrical entity. All elementary forces in nature should be a reflection of a unique geometry.
“A hypersonic ascent into an alien dimension”.
“… I assume that basically the download called history, meaning all the technology, social innovation, philosophy, art, fashion, architecture, is some kind of dialogue with this… well higher mind is, I’m not entirely comfortable with that, but this higher mind that keeps showing these different facets through the mist…” Terrence McKenna vs The Black Hole, 1999
“A conversation with something beyond our understanding – is it otherworldly? Or springing forth out of our technology?”.
- A Moment Alone
Under neon loneliness; the album’s most beautiful vignette that inspired the head-title of this feature.
“Reflective, haunted by something and praying for absolution, then realizing that you had the power to change it all along”.
- Into the Dreamtime
The ancient time of the creation of all things by sacred ancestors, whose spirits echo in the present.
“The slow fading in and out of entering an alien dimension”.
- Left Behind
A rather unceremonious end for the abandoned icons of a once-proud space program.
“Regret and Longing”
- Cosmic Ripples
Gravity is described as the warping and curvature of space & time. These gravitational waves are simply ripples in the fabric of space.
“Universal Love, which we are all a part of, but the breakneck speed at which we live at has eroded it away and separated us from each other”.
- Imaginary Chaos
Imagination not tempered by reason produces chaos.
“The imagination is chaos. New forms are fetched out of it. The creative act is to let down the net of human imagination into the ocean of chaos on which we are suspended and then to attempt to bring out of it ideas”- Rupert Sheldrake
“Allowing your mind to drift and experience something beyond what it’s accustomed to. How can we evolve otherwise?”.
In an ocean of information and misinformation opinions are replaced by reflexes and primal instincts.
“Predatory instincts – Not just animals, but mankind is a predator. Predators in the form of powerful companies and governments, oligarchs, kings and queens. The boogeyman isn’t the monster, mankind is”.
- The Red Pill
An allegoric sonic narrative of past experiences; a “stream of consciousness” account of an otherworldly present.
“The deep immersion of the Ayahuasca journey, or something equally as transformative“.
There is a method to the madness.
“The Heartbeat of life as it encounters the ebbs and flows of existence. Cause and effect, mind in motion, chaos playing its game at all levels of our lives”.
- Waiting for Tomorrow
Today is the tomorrow you were promised yesterday. The inherent need to believe that no matter how bleak today seems, a better day will rise.
“Staring out of the window on a Sunday afternoon, reflecting on the peace and tranquillity”.
- From Where We Came
The story is the same, but takes place in a different timeline. The posters are now folded and stored in shoeboxes in the attic, the sunrise is the start and not the end of the day and those kids are now grown-ups, naivety replaced with experience, still winking playfully at a life we can’t leave behind…
“We arrived at this point from experimenting with sounds in the late 80’s and 90’s and not conforming to a specific way of doing things. Let the journey continue to who knows where”.
“I have sold all my hardware now, mainly due to the fact I was supposed to be travelling for a few years and wanted to be travelling light, but obviously, the pandemic has messed that completely up. But obviously I never knew Covid was going to happen, so I sold it all and began delving into hundreds of virtual synths and getting adept at tweaking what I could out of them. I literally have around a hundred, but my go to VST’s I am most comfortable with are ‘Absynth’, ‘Omnisphere’ and ‘Reaktor’, but quite literally anything can pop up at any time. My DAW is ‘Cubase’. Brandon on the other hand uses mostly ‘Ableton’, a Roland Gaia, Roland TR-808 and other little synths like Korg Volca. Also, anything he can get his hands on to get cool sounds out of, like chopsticks, pans and cat toys for percussion haha. As we both use different software, we generally just share stems or whole tracks separated whichever way we want at the time. For instance, I might just want Brandon to work on a drum track, so I fire over all the pads and melodies with a basic beat as a guide and then he does his magic and just sends me back his beat tracks. Each track varies depending on how it’s evolving, so really there’s no set pattern to how we work. Some tracks are made up on the fly and are done in a day, while others just sit there for months until we have an idea on how to finish them, meaning that we’ve both probably ducked into other projects in the interim that were inspiring us at the time. Sometimes I create the title of a track before I start writing, that way it influences how it turns out in terms of feel and mood, but on this occasion, it was completely the opposite. It was always going to be an experimental ambient-inspired album from when I very first hassled Brandon to work on it with me, so the names were actually only given to each track at the very end, when we had the full LP laid out in front of us. Each one during production was just labeled ‘Ambient Halftime Space Jungle 1, 2’ etc.
My own general structure when writing a track is that I just lay out a beat that I intend to expand on later, just to get the rhythm going and then I begin playing the musical parts. I generally start with the pads, add layers in, then a bassline, then melodies. Then, I will make a quick arrangement and see where I think the track needs to be headed, so I sometimes add things, change melodies, discard this, discard that and so on. I normally put the finishing touches to the beats after I have laid out the rest of the track, so that I can get the beats to compliment what the music is doing. I can’t finish answering this question though without adding that what I think is the main instrument in a lot of the tracks is the guitar, which is brilliantly played by my good friend Will Plowman. I have featured him on tracks since I very first started producing and his noodling is always epic and emotional. So, 90% of the guitar you hear in any Eschaton track is normally him, thanks Will!”
Background stories and fan facts
“My artist name maybe, ‘Eschaton’, which in theology means the ‘Final Event in the Divine Plan’. That sounds like quite a depressing and dark thing, and you will normally notice that musically other bands or tracks called ‘Eschaton’ are Thrash and Death metal. I chose to interpret it in a more upbeat way, more in line with what the late Terence McKenna thought about it, which is more to do with an increasingly complex evolution of consciousness and the eschaton was the singularity, the final glorious moment or state that all things throughout history were being drawn towards. You’ve got to have a little hope in your life haha. The word is derived from the Greek word ‘eskhatos’ which means ‘ultimate’.
Facts about the LP, although not necessarily fun are that ‘Left Behind’ was a track I started and wanted to go back to, but the project corrupted, so all I had was the wav export. I felt it could do with a few minor touches, but as I couldn’t access the project, I was limited, so it was a case of adding a few light things over the top. I nearly left it off the LP, because I couldn’t access the project, but changed my mind as I felt that it worked well in the middle as another ‘bridge’ between the start and end of the album.
The track ‘Disorganized’ originally started out as a collaboration project with the brilliant Fishy. Eivind sent me some stems he had started and I fiddled around with them, then got sidetracked on other projects and forgot about it. I then found the project again, apologized to him for being completely rubbish and tried to do some more on it. I went in and out of the track that often to play around and test ideas that eventually it had absolutely nothing to do with the parts he had originally sent me. In fact, there was not one single element left in it from what he had sent, absolutely nothing! So it ended up working well with the LP concept”.
“This is my 21st LP, which is crazy! Not all of those have been solo LP’s of course, but that’s a lot more than I realized; and it was only when I went back and counted that I discovered that. I hope people like the mood of the LP, I know it’s different and that’s the point, so only time will tell. My earlier LP called ‘Interstellar Signals’ was another experimental release, one that admittedly didn’t go down too well. I guess it was too different and was inspired more by 80’s electro and 00’s era Blame, so had very unusual breaks and rhythms and just didn’t fit in with what was generally being released.
It was great to work with Brandon again on ‘PM:AM’ and I’d like to apologise to him for being so insistent at times; I was like a dog with a bone chasing things up with him! After this I will try and create another solo LP or EP, something in an atmospheric style, which obviously is my preferred style. I have always tried to make an atmospheric track that would fit nicely with the classic GLR sounds, but once I sit down and start composing, I go off on a mad tangent and things don’t end up the way I expected! So, I will try and make an atmospheric LP, but it could end up as a weird blend of reversed breakbeats and unusual melodies; at this moment in time I really couldn’t say! Brandon is going to continue working on music in his spare time, it’s a passion for him, and I’m sure he will be sending me something spectacular soon enough.”
Eschaton & Omni Music Future projects
“I have a couple of remixes I am working on for Pete Rann and Schoco, which will come out as and when. Omni also have a series of EP’s in the pipeline from Ibunshi, and K3Bee, who is releasing a ‘Broken Archives’ 3-part set of recovered older projects, that have been cleaned up as much as possible. Coming up very soon I have an epic remix collection of a Sonic Art & If-Read track called ‘Cloud Illusion’. The release features their original and a host of amazing remixes from Stunna, Necrotype, Justice, Greekboy and many others. There are 10 tracks in total, so 9 remixes. Brandon is working on more stuff, that I am hoping to get out and I have an LP from Rainforest in the pipeline. There are also a few new unknown artists I am going to release and promote to give them a chance to have their music heard, plus regulars Pariah & Greekboy, and the brilliant FX909 is jumping on board too. I’m possibly releasing a few ambient versions of some of the tracks from this LP, as well as (if all goes to plan) a crowd-funded vinyl ‘best of Omni’ series (but we will see!). I have just finally received some finished tracks from Steve Alexander, who I am proud to present, as it is his return to DnB. Most people will know him from his work in the late 90’s on Reinforced Records, but he is also an extremely talented drummer who has worked with Jeff Beck and Duran Duran.
Once I have finished my third novel, and have got the remixes out of the way, I will look at maybe producing a solo EP or LP”.
Brief artist profiles
“I’m just a guy who enjoys making music and cooking food. It was around 99 when I started getting into electronic music. First d&b tape I ever got my hands on was a LTJ Bukem/Phantom 45 mixtape; one side was ambient jungle and the other techstep. I was hooked and it all snowballed from there”.
“Hailing from the Midlands, UK, Eschaton spent his formative years listening and collecting electronic music. After hearing the early Acid House sounds crackling over pirate radio stations, he was hooked and he followed the music as it grew and evolved into Atmospheric Drum and Bass. He used to DJ at low key events throughout Nottingham and Derby in the late 90’s, but never made a big name for himself; he was happy just to play the music he loved.
He eventually turned his attention to producing and used his earlier influences to mold his own unique Drum and Bass sounds. In a way, his early productions were maybe too unique, which made it difficult to get signed. Eventually, he decided it was time to set up his own imprint, one that would showcase his own experimental productions, as well as a host of music from other producers he was in touch with from across the globe.
Omni Music was born in 2011, and since then has gone from strength to strength, releasing intelligent music that spans the drum and bass spectrum, as well as deep techno and ambient. With a huge catalogue under its belt, Omni Music has shown no sign of stopping, as Eschaton continues to delve deep into the demos he is sent, to release the very finest compositions he can find“.
Social Media & Links
The previous instalments of the “Inside The Album” series from the blog’s archive here.