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Jun 20

Omargeddon #13: Infinity Drips

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Wikipedia has been a blessing and a curse for the Omargeddon project. On the one hand, it’s brilliant for stuff like release dates, personnel and links to interviews. On the other, some of the data is patchy, as when noting and linking previous versions of songs. Plus, not every album has its own dedicated page. But it’s a fairly easy way to find the story of the story of the album, whether that’s dissecting the concept or just detailing inspiration, which is particularly useful for digital releases without liner notes available. So I usually read up on the relevant Wikipedia page before starting a new review, and since I’ve been puzzling over Infinity Drips for a while now, I turned there for some answers. 

Except to my annoyance, I was given sorta answers and further questions confused with half-truths and gorilla dust. Personnel is listed as Teri Gender Bender on vocals and lyrics, with ORL credited with instruments and samples, which isn’t desperately helpful. It’s evident from the first listen that this is a project inspired by Eastern influences, though I wasn’t aware till then that most of the song titles are named after Arabic words for stars. I’d like to know where the samples have been sourced, in addition to the Jerusalem field recordings used in past releases, and which instruments specifically were played by Omar. But probably most personally vexing was reading that “Azha” appears in “Happiness” from Unicorn Skeleton Mask and the first three tracks off Zapopan, thus rendering the table I so confidently constructed for Unicorn Skeleton Mask out of date. 

I find these elements nearly impossible to excavate from the cluttered layers of sound, so I’m not surprised this connection sailed clear over my head. On the first listen, Infinity Drips felt to me like an off-the-cuff piece that was the product of an afternoon working off the effects of a smoothie made from psilocybin mushrooms, absinthe and six whole nutmegs. Two weeks later, Weekly Mansions was released, and for a very long time that was my go-to soundtrack, so I didn’t listen to Infinity Drips again until I started this project. There’s a lot to be confused by but also a fair amount to love, and this is all due to the magically surreal power of Teri Gender Bender. It’s grown on me with repeated listens, and yes, I do love it, in a way. 

In all honesty, if this had been the only ORL release that year, I’d have been straight-up disappointed, but this slice of what-the-fuckery was served alongside a glut of pop, indie, and plenty of classic sounds. The Quietus was not a fan, though, noting “…even the 2009 ORL album Despair, commonly cited as his most pointless and abrasive work, can be seen as a conceptual whole, an aesthetic thought process, an artistic performance, a statement, an embodied theory through its positioning of nostalgia, memory, the reversal of time and narrative order – in lieu of being seen as narrowly-enjoyable music to listen to. Harsh words indeed, and I have to mostly disagree with their take. It is discombobulating, like a waking dream on the knife-edge of creepy, but nowhere near the soul-chilling fearscape that is Despair. Also, there’s no TGB on Despair, and also, Despair is utterly unlistenable and can’t be fairly compared to anything outside of demon dimensions.

Even on my first, less than appreciative listen, “Tania Borealis” drew me to its confusion of tumbling sitar notes. After multiple listens, the white noisy motif that pulses across the album becomes more evident and satisfying. Teri’s vocalisations twist and loop around in waves, sounds mirroring the music, with repetitive lyrics about falling down and yearning. I place a lot of importance on lyrics and the fact that here they are mostly meaningless is still confusing to me but in an increasingly pleasant way.

Just over halfway through, the longest track on the album “Nihal” delivers a hint of classic ORL slow-shred that follows rather than leads the dance. I can’t find the lyrics online anywhere to do even a crummy machine translation from the Spanish, though on this out of all albums it seems to matter the least; it’s the amalgamation of metallic bongo beats, TGB’s wailing, and the recurring hiss and buzz nested throughout. 

The flow of Infinity Drips is remarkable in its fluidity considering the tracks are split across intro/outro instrumentals, though it doesn’t matter if this is a deliberate ploy to increase listening numbers. In any case, this was an ORL device for many years before the streaming era. But I do think it’s worth marking out those movements, because there is a subtle channel shift every time in pitch, a nuance that is rewarded with multiple listens. TGB’s vocals as an instrumental device started off puzzling, but I’m glad I’ve given this more time and thought. It’s definitely not an everyday listen and not one I’d include in my ORL Conversion Pitch Mix, but its queer eeriness is mesmerising, and I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking this.

Track listing:
Na’ir Al Saif
Azha
Jabhat Al Akrab
Microscopium
Tania Borealis
Lacerta
Zuben El Genubi
El Nath
Nihal
Baten Kaitos
Edasich
Er Rai
Manir Al Shuja

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