Omen is the final album by Half Makeshift, a one man operation helmed by Nathan Michael. The reason for his retreat from musical activities is very interesting indeed. Michael believes, as a result of his biblical studies, that the world is going to end in 2011, and he needs to expend his time spreading the word. If you have any doubt as to whether or not this is some sort of prank or publicity stunt, see the Profound Lore website. There is, oddly enough, a press release of sorts, authored by Michael explaining the reasons for his lack of future involvement nor any interest in distributing this or any of his previous albums.
The Half Makeshift MySpace page provides a bit more insight into his beliefs, in the form of some back and forth remarks with readers in the blog section. Also, there is an interview that Michael did with an unnamed webzine, which is interesting, to say the least. Whatever his beliefs, there are a few things left to wonder as a result of this statement; if there's no time to create music because the world is going to end, why maintain a MySpace account? If the world is coming to an end, wouldn't you want to get as much done as possible before the apocalypse? Why not make music right up until the ball drops? Does that mean that nothing else should be accomplished between now and 2011? making it your mission to tell as many people as you can something that you believe is inevitable (and that few will actually believe) doesn't sound like a wonderful way to spend your last few years on the planet to me.
Having said all of that, we mustn't forget that despite Nathan Michael's current disinterest in anything but the hellfire and brimstone which awaits us all, there is an album to review here. I must note that I listened to this album a few times prior to discovering any of the aforementioned information. It consists of four long unnamed tracks, and the instrumentation is made up of guitar, keyboards, distortion and noise, among other things. The composition of the music is strongly reminiscent of Godspeed You Black Emperor, with fewer crescendos, and a lot more background noise. The guitar playing is kind of a simplified version of GSYBE's quickly picked single notes, which are melodic and melancholy.
There's also a bit of the blunted peaks of Mogwai apparent here and there as well. In other words, Omen sounds like a simplified version of a mid to late nineties post-rock album, with some noise thrown on top. Its strong point is that it conveys enough emotion to validate its existence, and though it offers little in the way of innovation, it's artfully layered. Unfortunately, the negative balances out the good; the music is too derivative to provide any real thrills. And because the pieces are relatively simple, they fail to justify their length. By the end of each track, it feels like each idea has been done to death.
Omen isn't a terrible album, and if you haven't heard Godspeed You Black Emperor do it better already, it's well worth a listen. As it stands though, it doesn't quite make a suitable soundtrack for the end of times.