Chillwave Chillzone: OMN – ‘Betwixt’

Posted: by Ethan

Hey! Remember me? No? Well, alright, alright. I wrote a few posts last year for this beautiful site but fell off the wagon due to a series of life events that made me question my entire foundation. Which is, like, super fun and not panic inducing at all. Hendo said that I could come back and regale (bore) you with my chillwave knowledge, so I’m taking him up on the offer.

Let’s get down to brass tax: This song fucks me up – and then some. Ollie McKendrick Ness, also known by the moniker OMN, is a twenty-something from the UK creating some of the most emotionally resonant and interesting beats probably since I first heard Giraffage. That may not mean a lot to you, so to translate: The boy is damn good.

I found OMN stumbling around a chillwave website that curates new playlists every week. “Betwixt” was the first song I heard by him, and, quite frankly, I would not be mad if it was the only song he had in his repertoire. My captivation with the song, and subsequently OMN as an artist, can be compared to a line in the seminal teen-romance novel/movie, The Fault in Our Stars (before you say anything, I know what I am doing): Slowly, and then all at once. If I have to be completely honest, I’m not sorry I just used a John Green novel as an analogy. His books are actually great. What the fuck am I doing? Regardless, the juxtaposition is an apt representation of how enveloped I was in the music as the song faded.

As the song warps in, the lyric, and the only lyric throughout the entire song, “I don’t think I can” is exclaimed by a deep, dissonant voice. At the start of the track, the voice is almost entirely devoid of emotion as the low, burgeoning tone seemingly struggles with each syllable. It’s painful, to the say the least, as the narrator struggles with the inclination that whatever they are striving for or attempting to feel, they simply do not believe it’s possible, which is an interesting tonal perspective given the melody is relatively uplifting.

While the song meanders the path between suffering, acknowledgment, and acceptance, the repetition of the lyric becomes more than an insecure declaration; it provides the listener with an examination of the speaker’s mentality as they battle with their hesitancy. This, more than the many other things I love about OMN, struck a chord with me. As someone who struggles with mild-severe anxiety on a daily basis, I am always embedded in a war within myself. “I don’t think I can” has become my unwanted mantra – a constant incantation I chant in my head any time I face even remote uncertainty. Hearing my slogan for self-doubt repeated again and again in song was oddly cathartic. Toward the end, I actually felt better.

Rather than continue rambling about the song’s psyche, I am going to let you listen for yourself. Whether you need an intense, cleansing cry at the end of a hard day or just a solid song to add to your “Bachelorette 2k16 Pump Up Playlist”, “Betwixt” is a terrific choice and tune I can see myself coming back to you for years. You can listen to other OMN tracks over on Soundcloud.