Music from Omfostan!
Omnipresence is the opus magnum of the explorer and discoverer
OMFO. Years of travelling far and wide, making hundreds of recordings,
delving into ancient musical cultures, learning to play strange and
unfamiliar instruments, have culminated in this experimental electro-
acoustic masterpiece. An unprecedented combination of sound and
instruments takes us on a journey through time and space, captivating
the imagination from the very first moment.
His first album on the Essay Recordings label, Trans Balkan
Express, put OMFO in the international spotlight. Sacha Baron Cohen
(aka Borat) even chose two tracks from the album for the soundtrack of
his latest film. On his second album, We are the Shepherds, OMFO led a
virtual flock of sheep into orbit and let the shepherds make music in
After that, he concentrated on developing his stage
performance according his maxim of “back to the
archetypes”. Collaborating with artists and musicians from
around Eurasia is his greatest passion; traditional cultures and their
connection with cosmic metaphysical forces his greatest inspiration.
OMFO wants to introduce western audiences to what he regards as the
“intrinsic modernism of the Orient”. This includes
extending the listener’s experience of music beyond the
boundaries of mere entertainment and taking it into the realms of
His Primitive Equations project, with DJ Goldfinger
– a series of events featuring the music and art of
indigenous people – uses “field
recordings” accompanied by video projections of related
images. In October 2007, thanks to the Aga Khan Music Initiative in
Central Asia, OMFO was able to visit Tajikistan, where he had the
opportunity of working directly with musicians from the remote Pamir
mountain region of Badakhshan. This led to a series of multimedia
events throughout Europe and Central Asia: Falak - the Heavenly Music
on Stage. It is from this wealth of experience that OMFO has drawn the
inspiration for his latest album. In his quest to resolve the issue of
traditional cultures and their role in the age of technologies,
Omnipresence is a catalyst for the fusion of these two seemingly
irreconcilable concepts. At the same time, OMFO continues to work in
the field of film music, mainly creating soundtracks for the video
installations and performances of leading Kazakhstan artist Almagul
Menlibayeva, whose work will been shown again at the Venice Biennale
Expeditions into Central Asian Dub Space
OMFO’s reflections on his new album
It all started in a chaikhana somewhere in Central Asia. As I was enjoying a bowl of tea, suddenly the east of my brain started to send strange signals to my body. And then my vision of the world turned into the abstract motif of a Turkmen rug. The whole universe transformed into a carpet ornament. The sound of prayer calls, noisy bazaars and barking dogs dissolved into the eerie desert wind.
The next moment I found myself sitting on the back of a camel. Our long caravan was drifting through a bright yellow space, toward an invisible horizon, where sand dunes and sky merge. Where we came from, what we were, and where we went, nobody could tell. No-one spoke a word. We were in a dreamlike state.
Suddenly, one of the camels started to sing and soon the whole caravan was humming along. With a sudden jerk, the western part of my brain hurled me back into the tea house. The beautiful song I had just heard slowly faded away.
I took another sip of tea and when I looked up, I saw a mountain range flashing by. I was on the bullet train to Dushanbe. Next to me was a girl with eyebrows curved like the crescent moon, and a little birth mark on her cheek. Her sensuous eyes radiated love and she smiled mysteriously while listening to her turquoise iPod. On the small display I saw the secret of her joy: she was listening to OMFO.
Just as I was about to say something to her, the train stopped
middle of nowhere. When I got off the train, I saw a long carpet that
leads me to a richly decorated yurt. It was as though I was expected
there. A group of nomads dressed in colorful chapans offered me a bowl
of fresh kumis. Their vintage Russian world receiver played some mellow
Pamiri Dub, and a few electronic arabesques, until it broke down. The
horse milk had made me very tipsy and just like a djinn, I flew
straight to the Pamiri Mountains. I landed in a deserted kishlak, where
I was welcomed by an almasti. Soon a whole family of these six feet
tall bigfoots joined us in some Neolithic ritual. We were chanting some
abracadabra and as we were circling around a huge tree, going faster
and faster, we heard the sound of thunder. A bolt of lightning struck
the tree, and from its center a Siberian shaman appeared. While beating
his drum he invoked the spirits of my innumerable ancestors. In a split
second I realized that I was able to go wherever I wanted to, at the
speed of my wish. The drumming transformed into countless songs and
melodies that spread through my vast brain like a blazing fire - Music!
Incredible music filled the whole universe! Omnipresence!
Essay Recordings AY CD 22 (EAN 881390202225)
01. Tipsy Djinn
02. Sindbad the Spaceman
03. The Sorcerer
04. Expedition East
05. Pamiri Dub
09. Tajik Equations
10. The Lost Polyphonics
13. Siberian Abracadabra
15. Kashgar Chai
16. Beauty Mark
17. Native Nocturne
Makossa & Megablast vs. OMFO
Expeditions into Central Asian Dub Space
The first Remix to be excerpted from the upcoming Omnipresence album
features a very special remix by Viennese super heroes Makossa
OMFO always had a strong following in Austria, where his first album was an underground bestseller. Now Makossa & Megablast - who recently scored with their fabulous “Kunuaka” album (G-Stone Recordings) - reworked the OMFO track Baghdub, which was hailed being one of the most outstanding tracks on the popular “Dub Club” compilation (also on Dorfmeister’s label G-Stone). Makossa & Megablast asked for the original tapes and crafted BUGDUB - housy dancefloor stomper.
Marcus Wagner-Lapierre aka MAKOSSA is a long time veteran of the Viennese Dj culture. He started spinning in the early 80ies and became head of music for Austria's famous and nationwide independent radio station FM4 in 1995. Makossa has influenced and animated thousands of music lovers in and around Austria and is known for his wide range of musical knowledge and taste. His legendary Saturday night show "Swound Sound System" with Mc Sugar B specializes in deep, dope, dubby & dirty funky, afro, cosmic influenced electronica and has been running for more than 13 years now. After a few remixes & productions for/with Uptight, Sofa Surfers & Peter Kruder in the mid 90ies, he finally teamed up with long-time friend Megablast.
Sascha Weisz aka MEGABLAST started in the early 90ies as DJ/Producer. Initially inspired by Dope Beats, Reggae, and Hip Hop, he soon developed a passion for Acid House, Tribal and Electro. Still too young for official parties and clubs, he enjoyed the illegal Tech scene and started showing his individual style of producing with his first project "Luv Lite Massive". Influenced by all these different kinds of music, Megablast developed his own "Viennese" sound presenting the output on his highly acclaimed debut album "Creation" (Stereo Deluxe, 2003). Meanwhile, he has remixed and released for the likes of G-Stone, !K7, Afroart and Pulver. His own tracks have been reinterpreted by such nobilities as Fauna Flash, Yam Who, Stereotyp and Pressure Drop.
Makossa & Megablast vs. OMFO
Essay Recordings AY 12 (EAN 881390201266)
A1 Makossa & Megablast vs. OMFO: BUGDUB
B1 Tipsy Djinn
B2 Sindbad the Spaceman
B3 The Sorcerer
The Shepherds Manifesto
Shepherds of the Universe Unite!
Comrades! It is not a coincidence that the first man in space
was a shepherd (Yuri Gagarin). In fact most of the cosmonauts were
shepherds as well as some of their American colleagues (astronauts
William Shepherd). And what about shepherd dog Laika? Who would not
have longed to hear it bark from the orbit…? Is it all a
mere coincidence? Certainly not! I shall explain.
The USSR was the first country to put man in space. But also
the USSR was the first to proclaim the absolute power of the
proletarians, peasants and…. Yes! Shepherds! Using their
"Pure Shepherd Logic" (PSL), also known as the Logic of the Shepherds,
they achieved a great success on Earth, expending their pastures into
the stratosphere and beyond, flying the space rockets. Shepherds, stars
and the Milky Way were always friends. The flute of a shepherd used to
accompany the falling meteors and eclipses of the Moon. That is how a
shepherd turned, enriched by the Morse code, dissolved in pulsating
clicks and the bubbly electronics, sounds into the Space
Symphony, glorifying the primordial qualities of the shepherd's live.
This is the album for present day shepherds. You can enjoy it
listening alone, immersed in your own shepherd fantasies or dancing
with a fellow shepherd or shepherdess. These incessant rhythmic
pulsations, captivating tone colors and sound effects of electronic and
acoustic instruments, as well as unpretentious and plain melodic
patterns, create an uncommon but contemporary feeling. Even your flock
of sheep might experience a cosmically unreal and transient state,
resulting in good production of milk'n'wool.
Shepherds fall in love and then they sing… they
sing slow melancholic melodies with naive and beautiful
lyrics. Even surrounded by eerie reaches of space, deprived
of the local disco clubs, they take up to their own innovative
character and invent the new musicale instruments. This is how simple
drum, flute, mouth harp turned into theremin, synthesizer and sampling
sequencer. This is how old songs from all around their motherland,
found its new meaning in the new environment, surrounded by whirling
satellites, brilliant galaxies, streaming comets and mysterious
Where to go from here is the question we are pondering over already now.
The Shepherds of the Universe – unite!
Our Man from Odessa
The master of crossover par excellence.
O.M.F.O. Our Man from Odessa Born in the port of Odessa (Ukraine), German Popov emigrated to Amsterdam in 1989.
As an explorer German Popov loves to travel around Central Asia making live recordings of everything from the traditional songs and melodies of the steppes to the modern restaurant bands of Tashkent with their tinny keyboard sound.
So welcome to electronic Walachia, where folk meets Kraftwerk and where bizarre instruments and electronic sounds combine to create a whole new musical dimension.
With his ideas and his musicians he bravely goes where no human ear has dared to go before. Futurism meets folklore imaginaire: Ladies and Gentlemen, we are floating in Eastern European space.
His first album on the Essay Recordings label, Trans Balkan Express, put him in the international spotlight, and none other than Borat has chosen two tracks from the album Money Boney and Magic Mamaliga for the soundtrack of his latest film.
A line-up of extraordinary people
OMFO is German Popov's stage name. He was born in 1966 in the port city of Odessa, USSR. Growing up in the biggest country in the world and being brainwashed by communist propaganda he proudly marched through the glory and misery of Soviet reality until all this came to an end. Unable to endure the pain inflicted by Perestroika G. Popov headed for the west, arriving in multicultural Amsterdam - a city associated with tolerant cannabis policy and frivolous behaviour.
That was where G. Popov rediscovered the rich cultural inheritance that was left to him by the past. Utopian ideology, the moral and cultural decay of the Brezhnev era, the pathos of space exploration and ethnic diversity: all this made him ready to become OMFO. G. Popov began his musical career playing gangster ballads and prison epics in caviar restaurants and fugitive hangouts together with Alec Kopyt. Taking advantage of world music lovers they played under the name The Children of Lieutenant Schmidt. After a while when this became no longer tenable G. Popov shifted his focus of interest towards space and cosmonauts. Jointly with a group of Soviet expatriates he created a band called Sputnik. Noticed by the adepts of electronic extravaganza Sputnik soon released their only album The Favorite Songs of Soviet Cosmonauts.
While the band was beeping around glamorous clubs and private parties G. Popov explored another path musical folklore. During one of his solo performances he was approached by a producer of a major Dutch new age label, who offered him his studio to make a recording. Shortly after, Oreade Music released an album under the mysterious name Isirik. To G. Popov's surprise this work was classified by the label as World Healing Music. Paradoxically, the album continues to inspire young intellectuals to experiment with psychedelic substances all over the former USSR.
The secret of its popularity lies in the mix of Russian lyrics of exotic Siberian and Central Asian melodies, skilfully played on weird instruments and sung with quaint vocal techniques. Probably this was when G. Popov fully realized the inseparable unity of ethnic wisdom and electronics as the true folklore of the 21st century.
As the nineties were wrapping up their legacy OMFO focused on his solo project, Our Man from Odessa, collaborating with various electronic labels. Most of his early works were released on the small Dutch label Kidnap, founded and run by members of the ex-Soviet diaspora. During this period he also collaborated with a controversial diva from the remote republic of Tuva Sainkho Namchilak - travelling the world and playing at big international venues.
As the new millennium kicked in, G. Popov and his friends found a new platform for their futuristic vision of sound and music. This is how Solaris was born. Presented not as record label, but as an art lab, this project was clearly inspired by Russian constructivism and utopian romanticism. The glamorous alias Our Man from Odessa gradually turns into the more succinct and enigmatic OMFO.
During this period, OMFO comes into reactive contact with projects and artists such as Metamatics, Aavikoo, Jimpster, CiM and Felix Kubin. All these names appeared on Solaris’ releases such as Aelita, Cheap Electric Paradise and Omnipresence. Music distributors and record shop owners still treat these impeccably designed albums as collector’s items.
A few years ago OMFO was contacted by Vladimir Lomberg a like-minded person who was invisibly present behind various projects including Solaris and Kidnap. He put OMFO in touch with Essay Recordings - a record label that is exploring the hidden potential of Eastern European music. OMFO's works began with a successful remix of a track written by Shantel the man who pioneered the fusion of Balkan music with electronic beats.
After the remix was included in the internationally acclaimed Bucovina Club album, OMFO was commissioned by Essay to work on his new album. Responding to the demand for something new in this field, OMFO created Trans Balkan Express. Shortly after its release this album became popular throughout Europe and beyond, scoring hits; it was played on the radio and covered by the media.
Experimenting with fresh concepts and ideas, OMFO immediately distanced himself from the rest of the producers working in this genre. The peculiar and somewhat humorous vision of a Carpathian villager, playing a native tune on an analogue synthesizer, made OMFO's music natural and accessible for people from all walks of life and religious or ethnic backgrounds. Only this quality could attract an audience that includes criminals, shepherds, astronomers as well as taxi drivers and even terrorists. Regardless of the simplicity of the album, many music critics hailed Trans Balkan Express as cutting edge.
The songs from Trans Balkan Express were licensed by other labels and included in various compilations. It also came to the attention of famous comedian Sasha Baron Cohen better known as Ali G. Two tracks from OMFO's album are featured in the new 20th Century Fox film production Borat's "Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit of Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan".
Due to its very strong Arabic influence, one track called Bagdub was not included on the album. It was released by Dorfmeister’s G-Stone Recordings, becoming one of the most outstanding tracks of the Dub Club compilation.
Last spring G. Popov was introduced to Señor Coconut himself. The Sound Wizard kindly agreed to participate in the production of the new OMFO album. Separated by the Atlantic Ocean but united by a common goal, the two men started to exchange midi and audio files, to manipulate sounds, pushing to the limits of their software and hardware. As a result of their efforts, the album was ready within one month! Under the name We are the Shepherds, this project became the logical continuation of the previous Trans Balkan Express. The ironic reference to Kraftwerk in both titles was intended to underline the electronic concept of music.
To promote his projects, OMFO put together a line-up of five extraordinary people: the Transylvanian gypsy wunderkind Vasile Nedea on cimbalom and accordion, the Azeri sci-fi writer and virtuoso Rassul Kazimov on tar and guitar, the freedom fighter and storyteller Bakhtiyar Eybaliyev as percussionist and singer, often compared to a nightingale, and Fay Lovsky, The Lady from Beyond, who plays extremely rare instruments such as theremin and the singing saw, adding an eerie and mysterious mood to the music. All these musicians took part in the recording of We are the Shepherds.
The spectrum of OMFO's works is wide. He produces soundtracks for adult video clips and composes jingles for Turkmen radio stations. OMFO contributed his tracks to the russian made blockbuster "Manga" by Pyotr Khazizov. For the Venice biennale he wrote the soundtrack for the first ever Central Asian pavilion. Also, OMFO gives solo concerts and performs as a sound artist, as well as collecting field recordings. One of the new forms of using sound by OMFO is creation of a “sonic horoscopes” which are a peculiar way of linking astrology and music. In order to able to present his musical ideas avoiding European stereotypes he is constantly searching for the right venues and conditions to present his music to the audience. This brings OMFO in interaction with art galleries, theatres, cinemas, planetariums and botanical gardens.
OMFO is now looking forward to your comments and suggestions.
Atom™ on OMFO and their collaboration
When listening to OMFO for the first time, I was surprised about the fact that someone was working on a similar "theme" with me, yet dedicated to a totally different cultural zone. At first glance, what OMFO does seems to be so far away from, for example, my work with Sr. Coconut, Lisa Carbon or projects such as "Flanger", yet to me that difference does not really exist. It is music that somehow denies the dominance of certain cultural stereotypes by bending and twisting them into something that appears to be familiar, yet isn't. It is music that questions both familiar locations in time and space and expands them towards new horizons. Musical themes and topics that seemed to be lost in time and were already closed away in dark, abandoned closets of history are brought back as a valid option, as a new path we may start to take NOW. At the same time what we are listening to evokes a certain doubt inside us: is it fiction, or fact? We seem to be able to pin the music down to a territory or, if not that, at least to a historical moment, while at the same time we can not be 100% sure if it is reality talking, or just what we think reality is...a mere projection born deep inside us, fuelled by longings or prejudice. On a purely musical level OMFO knows which territories, both in form and content, he is walking through and this is what enables him to be playful.
The production was done entirely by sending audio data back and forth between Amsterdam and Santiago and hundreds of phone conversations, talking about which steps to take for which songs. In spite of the distance, I think we developed the final picture of the album together, inspiring us back and forth, playing verbal and non-verbal "ping pong" of ideas. Santiago, 11/09/2006
The press on OMFO
The press on "Trans Balkan Express" (Essay Recordings AY CD 02)
It’s rumored that cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, came from a family of shepherds. Forget space travel and moon landings, the very idea that dub pioneer Lee “Scratch” Perry can live on the surface of Switzerland, opens a universe of musical possibilities. O.M.F.O.’s merging of Eastern folk and Kraftwerkian dub on the Essay label is therefore only as surprising as, say, finding Osama bin Laden in his cave listening to Joe Meek.(PopMatters D.M. Edwards, 9 january 2007)
Could German Popov be the Señor Coconut of the Balkan states? Our Man From Odessa is armed with a trusty 808, a vocoder and lots of digital synths to create a disc that is both entirely sincere and a freakin’ riot at the same time. One could imagine these ultra clean digital versions of traditional and post-modern Balkan sketches being PSAs on a state run radio station or a floor-filler in some breathlessly hip Brooklyn club. I've yet to hear a neo-electro album that so successfully balances the robotic fun of drum machines with such inspired songcraft. It’s not all whimsy though "Cucoo Dub" is one of the great dub tracks so far this year. (Exclaim)
With flutes and stringed instruments, Jamaican dub techniques,
laptop producing, kosmonautic lyricism and electronic sound
engineering, Trans Balkan Express mixes the musical spice of the
Southeastern European provinces with the club culture of the West.
O.M.F.O. travels from Amsterdam via Berlin to the hinterlands of the
EU, the Karpates, the Black Sea, right into the front garden of Asia.
The result is an album featuring music located somewhere in-between
space and a Balkan wedding, happily ignoring musical boundaries of any
Trans Balkan Express is where modernism dances with tradition, and where the "old" Europe flows into the "new." (Tonevendor)
Is there such a thing as traditional Eastern European electronica? There is now! The album varies from knees up music to soft and gentle, beautiful melodies, but all done in such a unique style. You’re unlikely to hear anything quite like this anywhere else. (smallfish.co.uk)
A great album and one of the best examples of how tradition with modern rhythm makes a perfect marriage. (Progressive Homestead)
German Popov pulls off a startling stunt here. The Kraftwerk nod of the title hints at what's inside - sharply flavoured East European instruments and melodies getting a highly tweaked electro treatment. Add to that a penchant for Jamaican riddims and dub production and you've got an incongruous amalgam that works amazingly well. (Rupert Bottenberg/Montreal Mirror)
Some live concerts
"It's live, Jim, but not as we know it" (Capt Kirk).
OMFO on flutes and stringed
instruments, Jamaican dub techniques, laptop producing, kosmonautic
lyricism and electronic sound engineering
Autres Mers 2007, Les Escales, St.Nazaire (Loire), France
Tracklisting, file under: Village Disco or Space Folklore
Trans Balkan Express
(AY CD 02)
We Are The Shepherds
(AY CD 12)
Download articles, photographs, MP3 and Quicktime movies
Download article about OMFO
NRC 24/03/2006, in Dutch Download as Pdf
OMFO on the "BORAT"-SOUNDTRACK
Lasst's krachen, Kasachen!
Von Jenny Hoch
Download as Pdf or link
Download photographs of OMFO
Image: mr Volinkin
Image: mr Volinkin
Image: Mr or Mrs X
Download photographs of concerts
aBrAcAdAbRa, Moscow, Russia, April 2007
Sugar Factory, November 2006
Ost Klub, Wien, Austria, February 2007
All images (C)2007 by Peteionian.com.
Paradiso, Amsterdam 2006
Museum der Weltkulturen, Frankfurt a/M,
All images (C)2006 by Bas Czerwinski
Oerol, Holland 2005
All images (C)2005 by Almagul
Download MP3, interview and PODCAST
fat planet - OMFO
Download from Essay websiteClick on press
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