Intense, gritty, relentless and often found on labels like Rebel Music, DarkMode, GZ Audio and most recently Phase Records, Ominous is a rising Edinburgh talent who began to emerge and establish himself during our turbulent entry into the 20s.
“I released a little music before then, too,” Ominous (AKA Liam Gartland) admits. “But it was so terrible I changed my name! I mean the ideas were there, but the execution? I had a long way to go, man. I mean I still do now…”
Forever in pursuit of development and knowledge, it’s a mindset any producer will identify with, no matter how deep down the rabbit hole they are. For Liam, he underwent a hardcore spell of studying, research and notching up those all-important 10,000 hours.
“It’s all self taught,” he explains. “Being up in Scotland there’s not a huge D&B scene here and, until recently, no one I could bounce off and ask questions. It was just tutorial after tutorial after tutorial. I had a job where I could make tunes in the office, too. It was a car rental office in the city centre and I could easily go for six hours without a customer coming in. It was pretty cool actually. I basically got paid to learn how to make music!”
Listen to Ominous’s forthcoming EP Mutation and you’ll hear how that’s now paid off. Out April 7 on Phase Records, it’s a powerful soul exfoliating exhibition of contemporary technoid neurofunk. We caught the EP’s grand finale Machines, a collaboration with fellow Edinburgh artist Beskar.
Left-of-centre, armed with slightly wonky groove and littered with curious details, Machines is the latest in a series of collaborations with Beskar as the two artists have found a kinship and connection through locality, similarities and creative approaches.
“It’s funny how much we’ve become such good friends but only met each other a handful of times, even though we live in the same city,” laughs Beskar. AKA Ruben Partington. “I think our sounds and the way we produce complement each other.”
Liam echoes the same sentiments and explains how they met; he was running his own label when Ruben got in touch with demos.
“They were too good for my label, way too good!” he laughs. “I was getting fuck all listens or traction and his talents would be wasted on my little platform. At the time I’d just linked up with George Guzi who had been running Sub-Division Records and was just launching GZ Audio at the time so I introduced him to them.”
Their pact sealed by this selfless act, Beskar’s unique take on drum & bass has blossomed since that link-up and led to them both being the launch artists on GZ Audio. The wryly, highly Scottish release Chasing Haggis / Clansmen was release 001 for Guzi’s label, setting a tone, pace and connection for the pair that runs deep through their shared roots, their shared sci-fi connoisseurship and similar backgrounds.
Like Liam, Ruben also had a previous alias – Dead Loch. “I was producing under that name for 12 years,” explains multi-instrumentalist Ruben. “I’d write songs and EPs, I did multiple albums that only exist in my dad’s CD collection!”
With the pair now hitting more music collections than either of them have in the past, and adding new labels like Phase Records to their discographies, Machines is a fine example of where both acts are at and where they’re heading. In fact it could well be the last collaboration we see from them before they level up and form a duo for their co-creations.
“It just works, you know?” says Ruben. “Ominous conjures up his own sound. It’s very tense and lives up to its name and that’s great because it gives me the space to add my own melodic twists and ideas. We’re actually talking about starting a whole new alias for our music together called The Tonic.”
“I just love everything we’ve made together so far,” Liam adds. “Everything we’ve made has ended up with a slightly eccentric or different vibe that I don’t think either of us would arrive at independently. I’m really excited for what comes next.”
Whether it’s from Ominous, Beskar, The Tonic or any other fortified Scottish project they have up their sleeves, 1 More Thing looks forward to the next mutation…