Om Unit: Studio Talk

Experimental producer and bass enthusiast Om Unit (Jim Coles) has been a significant and pioneering presence in various dance music circles since his first releases in 2010. With roots in hip-hop, the Bristol-based beat maker’s sound embodies dubstep, ambient, jungle and footwork and is a force that continues to push the boundaries of sound system culture.

With releases on countless labels that include Metalheadz, Tempa and his own Cosmic Bridge, Om Unit’s latest project comes as a remix EP of his acclaimed 2017 album, Self. Featuring edits from SKRS, Sorrow, Bristol duo O$VMV$M and dBridge (of whose we premiered last week), the remix package expands on the themes and sonic palette of the record.

In light of the forthcoming release, we caught up with Om Unit in his home studio, taking a peek at some of his favourite pieces of gear and gaining insight into his creation process.

1. Dave Smith Instruments – OB-6 (6 Voice Analogue Polyphonic Synthesiser)

I increasingly go to this almost exclusively for synth stuff nowadays, unless I want something very simple (in which case I just go for serum). My production work tends to be quite simple melodically and so having something with some depth and character right off the bat is really key, it has a lot of tonal control with the incredible filter and mod/x-mod options that let you get into refining the tone further, but really it’s the sound source that matters, and this thing is just analogue joy.

2. Roland – JV-2080

I’ve heard so many records that sound like they’re made almost exclusively on this recently, I think it must have had a huge comeback! A 90’s staple, this thing is responsible for a ton of classic records, and just has so much inside it. You can get under the hood and tweak the structure of each voice and come up with some interesting combos of layers of voices too with editors like Soundquest or other sysex-based software editors. It’s just got really good sampled sounds and has a tone that cuts through the mix if you need it to.

3. Propheysound – Pi-Phase

This is a clone of the mu-tron bi-phase, the classic dual phase unit which was championed by Reggae and Dub Legend Lee Scratch Perry (and many many others!) It just sounds sick basically, it’s noisy and grotty and does twisted stuff to audio that I haven’t come across in software.

4. Mutable Instruments – Clouds

I have a few modular bits for hands-on outboard FX, I’ve found this approach great for adding a bit of chaos to what can sometimes be a very ordered/clean staring-at-a-screen approach to making music, I was really inspired by spending a lot of time with my good friend MissTer Spoon who makes music entirely on the fly using modular gear, She has some physical impairments but the world of modular has helped her to find a form of expression which in turn has inspired me to embrace that free-flowing experimental approach to audio manipulation. This is all over ‘Self’ and other recent works, the reverb alone sounds sick and the re-pitching granular delay sounds like a poor-man’s eventide (in a good way).

5. Neumann KH-120a Monitors w DMSD-50 De-Couplers

Surgically flat, nearfield monitors with aerospace-level sound dampening. Just have listen to them, they’re ruthless, absolute bastard speakers but if you work a bit harder to get a mix sounding clean and flat (NOT hi-fi!) on them it works everywhere. The de-couplers are made in Italy by DMSD and instantly improved the stereo-phase in my room as well as preventing a lot of audio transferring to my desk, they ain’t cheap but it’s like a monitor upgrade!

Self – The Remixes is out September 7 on Cosmic Bridge Records. 

Preorder it here.

Featured Image: Sarah Ginn

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