by Elliott Adams

Om Records Tour

Sat June 14


With all of the musical cross-pollination that samplers and computers can foster, the opportunities to see a live version of these synergies are few are far between. Chris Smith, who runs Om Records, had this in mind when he started bringing in musicians to play over his studio creations. "There were very few records that fit the sound I was looking for, so I started making my own. The band came together a couple years later as I started digging deeper and wanted to put together a proper live ensemble."

The ensemble is Afro-Mystik, which is made up of two vocalists (Omega and Capitol A), Smith manning the synthesizers and samplers, and a total of three percussionists (one of whom does double duty on flute and guitar as well). They're basically the only stateside troupe doing the type of sound that groups like Bugz in the Attic and Truby Trio have championed in Europe over the last few years: heavy percussion, jazzy chords, and beats that go beyond saying "boots" over and over again really fast.

Again, the difference is the live show--something that makes them stand out on the roster of San Francisco's Om Records. Though the DJs who'll be joining them on the second Om tour ain't too shabby, either.

Rithma, known to the IRS as Etienne Stehelin, is an LA native whose debut album, Music Fiction, is a lush narrative of deep, chugging beats and spritely, melodic washes. He's rather young, at a sagely 23, for someone with over 20 records bearing his moniker. Apparently the fast lane of the music biz is nothing new; he was rocking six-string in infamous LA clubs such as The Whiskey and Roxy five years before he could legally drink whiskey.

The deep house of Kaskade and chameleon DJ sets of hometown boy J-Boogie (whose new album on Om is a loungey masterpiece) both compliment the wildly varied sound of Om just as much. As Smith said, "It's got to have soul, and we've got to enjoy working with the people behind it. We sort of just do our own thing, and it seems to work."