The Nominal Potency of Omni

Don’t call it slacker rock, but the Atlanta trio provide only the bare minimum.
The Nominal Potency of Omni

Don’t call it slacker rock, but the Atlanta trio provide only the bare minimum.

Words: Jeff Terich

photo by Sebastian Weiss

November 03, 2017

MEMBERS: Philip Frobos (bass/vocals), Frankie Broyles (guitar), and Doug Bleichner (drums)
FROM: Atlanta, Georgia
YOU MIGHT KNOW THEM FROM: Their 2016 debut Deluxe, or from their opening slot on tour with Franz Ferdinand earlier this year
NOW: Releasing their second album, Multi-task, via Trouble in Mind

Atlanta post-punk trio Omni operate by a simple, timeless aphorism: Less is more. On the band’s debut, last year’s Deluxe, there are only a few moments where they move beyond a skeletal guitar/bass/drums arrangement. And even though new album Multi-task finds them adding the occasional piano or other instrumental accompaniment, it’s still about a couple hundred instruments shy of being Pet Sounds. Minimalism was the principle upon which they were founded, and guitarist Frankie Broyles—formerly of Deerhunter—says that he’s averse to the idea of overloading a song with tracks.

“If there are too many tracks in a session, I’ll try to delete as many as possible,” he says. “To have the minimum tracks needed is always a goal. We used more mics on the drums [for the new record] and that was kind of scary to me, because we have all these tracks now.”

“There’s nothing there that we don’t want to be there,” adds vocalist and bassist Philip Frobos. “Even if I’m playing a bass line that might be a little too jazz, Frank might just say, ‘Why don’t you minimalize this part?’ and I usually think, ‘Yeah, you’re right.’ We try to keep everything in its right place.”

“To have the minimum [number of instrument] tracks needed is always a goal.” — Frankie Broyles

Whether it’s on the power-pop punch of “Equestrian,” the robotic interplay of “Tuxedo Blues,” or the sparse groove of “After Dinner,” Omni find a way to fill all of their sonic space without the need to invite anyone else into the room. Yet as they prepared to put these tracks on tape, they sought to remove another element entirely: the external stimuli of their city. The band left Atlanta to hole up in a cabin in Vienna, Georgia, for a few days—a decision that lent itself to a much quicker and more efficient recording process.

“When we got there, I realized how much more relaxed and not stressed out about other things I was. [We were] just out in the middle of nowhere with one objective,” Broyles says. “It helped to escape and not have anything else worrying me. I guess I wasn’t very conscious of how distracted I was… But once we went down there, it was pretty evident.”

The sleek, uncluttered sound of Multi-task sets it apart from a lot of other contemporary music, especially since it’s so easy now to make bedroom pop symphonies on your laptop. Yet Omni’s adherence to a zen musical philosophy isn’t fundamentalism for its own sake, or even because it’s easier. As Frobos explains, they simply don’t like the sound of music that’s overproduced.

“In regard to a lot of modern music and some old music, the big problem I have is that there are just layers and layers of guitars and effects and things that aren’t really adding to the song at all,” he says. “It’s mainly more noise, just for the sake of more. There’s also something really sexy about a couple of guitar and bass lines that flow really well together. You can look at a lot of great proto-punk and rock and roll songs that don’t rely on a lot of backing. They’re just rocking.” FL

This article appears in FLOOD 7. You can download or purchase the magazine here.