Alex Omar Smith, better known as Omar S., makes his long-anticipated Chicago debut at Smart Bar this week. Since releasing his first record in 2001, the Detroit artist’s uncompromising musical integrity and underground approach to music-making steadily earned him international recognition, with a particularly loyal following around Europe. He is now a much-admired innovator among the world’s best producers. Releasing all of his tracks on his own FXHE imprint until last year, Smith continues to sell the label’s vinyl releases out of his basement. In true D.I.Y. fashion, titles and catalog numbers are still inscribed by hand on every record with a magic marker. He earned worldwide recognition with his 2007 release “Psychotic Photosynthesis” and his critically acclaimed 2009 Fabric 45 mix, which was comprised entirely of his own material. Relying heavily on vintage synthesizers and drum machines, Smith’s raw and funky stripped-down rhythms and deep, rich instrumentations combine to create a timeless emotive style that skillfully obscures the borders between house and techno.
Opening the night is Chicago’s David Powers, a veteran musician, producer and DJ who also hails from Michigan. An accomplished jazz and classical pianist and composer, Powers takes inspiration from several genres of music when programming his DJ sets. His extended opening set at Smart Bar will showcase the classic sounds of house and techno, incorporating them with his own unreleased tracks and secret remixes to form an improvisational set of funky, futuristic music. Powers, who couldn’t be more excited for Omar S.’s upcoming appearance, comments, “[Smith’s] music not only perfectly merges the stripped-down synthetic sound of Detroit techno with the jacking groove of Chicago house, but also manages to capture the soulful quality of classic Motown records from the fifties and sixties…with his extensive knowledge of house music and its Chicago roots, club goers can expect to hear an unforgettable set from him at his Smart Bar debut, a set that no house-music aficionado should miss.” (Elly Rifkin)
January 15 at Smart Bar, 3730 N. Clark, (773)549-0203, 10pm. $10-$15.