Fretless Review: Omar Domkus, Shades of a Shadow
Today we bring you the very first installment in our new “Reviews” series. In announcing this addition to the Hub, I also want to introduce our newest contributor, Scott Kellogg. Based out of Bloomington, Indiana, Scott blends roots and experimental genres with a keen focus on songwriting and fretless bass playing. As a true musician more than a bass player, he plays a variety of other instruments strictly for the joy of making more intriguing music.
Now without further ado, I pass the baton to Scott.
Artist Introduction: Omar Domkus
Omar Domkus leads a musical life. In the early 80’s his cousin Billy introduced him to bass, and it wasn’t long before Omar was riffing Smoke on the Water while having his ears expanded by John Entwistle’s bass pyrotechnics on Quadrophenia. Omar’s love of the fretless bass has taken him on a diverse musical journey, from playing upright in the Junior Philharmonic of California, to gigging in punk bands, to collaborating with Bad Brains front man HR. Domkus now finds himself in the thick of a new bass movement: playing solo bass as a singer-songwriter. He frequents stages in clubs and cafes in Phoenix, Arizona, sharing his talents with the open-minded and musically adventurous.
Fretless CD Review: Shades of a Shadow
His 1988 Carvin fretless bass takes center stage on his latest release, Shades of a Shadow. An elevated spiritual consciousness runs through the recording like a river of light, raising the vibration of the music to something that graces the listener with ancient mysteries and evokes the eternal presence of the divine.
The musical journey begins with Alarm, which awakens the listener with a low synthy drone. A melodic, sustained gesture follows, stating in clearly that what is to come is something beyond the pale. Shema invokes the tetragrammaton, YHVH, the unknowable name of God. Repeated as a mantra under a liquid fretless ostinato, YHVH rises to the skies from earth as lake water evaporates to rejoin the clouds.
The songs are strongest when the are fully realized, particularly in Tiananmen Square, which features an ethereal vocal reminiscent of Cocteau Twins vocalist Elizabeth Fraser. The song’s harrowing story of military agression against civilians starkly contrasts the breezy vocal and instrumentation, highlighting Domkus’ savvy as a producer.
The songs on Shades of a Shadow fall into two main types. The lion’s share are comprised bass, percussion, and vocal. A few, such as Tiananmen Square, Little Man, and Rejoice in the Dance have denser instrumentation. These provide a fuller listening experience, giving Domkus’ fretless a context and setting in which to shine. His playing is reminiscent of the late Mick Karn’s: full of memorable slides, hooks, and growls which serve to define the feel and texture of the song.
Shades of a Shadow contains breathtaking moments, but suffers from a similarity in style, particularly on the “bass and vocal” tunes. Some of the tracks long to be developed, showing great potential as production vehicles for Omar’s creative mind. Shadow shows us tantalizing glimpses of Domkus’ vision: wide as the skies, deep as the sea, and full of stars. One cannot help but wonder what is next for this talented devotee of the fretless bass guitar.
Learn more about Scott Kellogg and his music at: http://www.scottkellogg.comhttp://fretlessbassguitarsite.com/2011/06/fretless-review-omar-domkus-shades-shadow/Reviewsbass,cd review,fretless,omar domkus,review,shades of a shadow