Omenopus is the trio of Lee Potts, John Pierpoint, and Bridget Wishart (plus guests), and their latest release is a 4 track 20 minute CDEP titled The Plague. I’ll quote the description from the Omenopus web site: “The Plague, portrayed through the sympathetic lyrics of Bridget Wishart and Thomas Nashe as poetry, nursery rhymes and litanies, is one woman’s allegory of England during the 1300’s as the plague and death advance across the land.”
The music on The Plague Part I (Plague of Ten) consists of soundscapes and a repetitive looped effect, later joined by what sounds like a wind instrument (probably Bridget’s EWI), over which Bridget sings in a quiet whispery style. After drifting along with Part I, The Plague Part II (Plague of Fire) took me completely by surprise, being a heavy and intense slab of electro-Metal with Bridget doing the growly Metal vocal style, but putting her own spin on it (and unlike most growly Metal vocals you can make out the lyrics). With The Plague Part III (Solitude) we’re back to a more dreamy atmospheric vibe, with sparse electro beats, pleasant keyboard melodies, alien electronics, violin and amazing vocals and vocal effects by Bridget. The music and vocals on this track remind me of what Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel were doing years ago.
Bridget wrote the lyrics to the first three parts but on The Plague Part IV (A Litany in Time of Plague) Bridget recites a poem from 1592 written by Thomas Nashe, accompanied by music that is part Baroque whimsy, and then… SMACK!… we’re in serious death Metal territory, with appropriately explosive guitar by guest Nigel Potter. As for the death Metal elements… Hey, it’s the freakin’ PLAGUE we’re talking about here! Widespread miserable death doesn’t get any worse than that and death Metal certainly characterizes the horror of it all. The music is theatrical and at all times interesting, taking numerous twists and turns and soon circles back to the original theme. And for the finale total focus is on Bridget as she recites the final lines from Nashe’s poem:
Haste, therefore, each degree
To welcome destiny
Heaven is our heritage
Earth but a player’s stage
Mount we unto the sky
I am sick, I must die
I must say Omenopus have done an impressive job of creating a mini-concept album. But wait! There’s MORE… the package also includes a second 6 song 20+ minute CDEP titled Scars. The set begins with Sentiments, an electro groove tune punctuated by soundscape effects and funky guitar, with vocals by both Bridget and… I’m guessing the male vocals are Lee as he wrote the lyrics. Songline opens with hypnotic didgeridoo by guest Mark Wadsworth plus tribal percussion and soundscapes. Crunchy guitar chords and other effects are carefully placed as if to accompany the spoken word poetic lyrics. Brookleaze is a beautiful piano and wind instrument instrumental. I’m again guessing that’s Bridget’s EWI. The Binary Dimension is a short spaced out soundscape piece. Omenopus totally rock out on My Secret Ghost, which segues right into Second Sight. Together these two songs make an absolutely KILLER 9+ minute Space Rock-Prog-Electronic-Metal rocking song. And if all this isn’t enough for an “EP”, pop the two discs into your computer CD drive, look at them in whatever file management system you use and you’ll find 5 hidden tracks. Very cool and lots of interesting variety across these two EPs.
For more information you can visit the Omenopus web site at: http://www.omenopus.com
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz