Ohm & Octal Industries

Northwest Passage

Lempuyang • 2023

Bjarnar Jónsson a.k.a. Ohm and Jónas Thor Gudmundsson, the remaining member of the former duo Octal Industries, were bound to work together one day. After all, Iceland is a small country and the scene for the island’s very specific dub techno sound is an even smaller one. Shortly after the label Thule, a central pivot of this specialised community, was reactivated in the mid-2010s after a long period of radio silence, the two finally collaborated for their first releases there, before putting out a slew of other releases elsewhere. Their 2016 EP »Sedna« marked the starting point for an extremely productive, sustainable collaboration. Four joint EPs were released between 2020 and 2022 alone, and now »Northwest Passage« comes as their first joint album. In terms of design and flow, it differs only slightly from previous shorter releases, but sensibly arranges their beat-oriented dub techno over eight tracks as a sort of atmospheric arc: the album begins with dancefloor-induced euphoria and ends in ethereal bliss. Concentrated grooves and bleepy undertones, wafting high-gloss chords and syncopated hi-hats dominate the first record of this double LP, which accordingly can well be put aside for club use. With »Photokeratitis« the rhythms become more complex and intertwined, and on »Anguta« the chords learn to float. The two closing tracks still take techno as their blueprint, but focus on emotionality instead of functionality: more important than the kicks are what happens around them. The journey along the »Northwest Passage« ultimately leads you to your couch. Drop in, zone out.