By Conner Yarbrough
Release Date: August 24, 2018
Sima Cunningham and Macie Stewart, known together as Ohmme, are the Chicago-based duo proving why music, despite the current formulaic pop epidemic, truly is a fine art. Their debut full-length album, Parts, does nothing less than destroy the boundaries between intellect and instinct in an enthralling 38 minutes.
The opening track, “Icon,” is the radio-palatable cousin to the album’s deeper cuts “Peach” or “Sentient Beings” – though not a single track lacks in appeal. However, “Icon” latches onto a more accessible melody surrounding the “eye” and “awh” vowel sounds during its chorus. Those sounds are only further complimented by the abrupt electric guitar chords in the instrumentation and the variation in phrasing as the chorus repeats itself. “Icon” is a generally bright song whose sharp contrasts between almost shockingly fluid vocals and broken growls from the guitar suggest that something darker is going on just beneath the surface. That something breaches during the bridge when the growls overwhelm the production, drowning out the vocals as the song wriggles into a more strange, more mean alternate universe – an alternate universe that, I feel, embodies the energy of the entire body of work.
While “Icon” isn’t my personal favorite on the album (I tend to lean even more unconventional), it exemplifies what I feel makes Parts so successful – fearlessness. Cunningham and Stewart’s control of sound, both instrumental and vocal, allows them to break whatever rules they’ve been taught during their years of musical training so that they can traverse whatever sonic landscape they choose. The duo isn’t afraid to indulge in their style. It’s as if they ask themselves, “How far can we take this idea?” and they go there.
This fearlessness is no more evident than on the tracks “Water” and “Peach,” where their combined talent on the electric guitar is matched by their experimental vocal phrasing. On “Water,” in particular, the post-chorus features the two alternating various vowel sounds to create the word “snowing” in the same way that they had on a song called “Fingerprints” from their self-titled EP. Their voices jump back and forth on top of scratchy guitar noises, that hurt in the best of ways, to create a composition that combines chaos and order as if the two were never antonyms to begin with. The same holds true on “Peach,” but instead the guitar almost plays a character as it interjects steccato lines like a devil on the song’s shoulder, inspiring the undying hunger that the song emphasizes.
Honestly, this is just an album you have to hear to believe. Words cannot properly explain the power of the emotions that every song evokes, not because that song is telling you to feel a certain way, but because it is utilizing poetic rhythm and build that truly make you feel that certain way. Parts is, put simply, a triumph.