I think that it is safe to say that not enough of you have heard of Omid. If you haven’t already tracked down the “Beneath The Surface” compilation or his “Distant Drummer” instrumental album, you are already behind the count. Letting “Monolith” get past you is strike three, hit the showers, and go home. Aside from Jon Doe, no producer made a better compilation album in 2003 than LA’s Omid. Guest appearances from indy favorites such as Slug, Aceyalone, Murs, Buck 65 and Abstract Rude might draw you in, but there is much more to “Monolith.”

The album is essentially two parts; Omid’s collaborations with emcees and his instrumental tracks. Throughout his 7 instrumental efforts, Omid proves worthy to be mentioned amongst the elite instrumentalists. I’m not talking Rj or Shadow here, but he is damn good. With each placed between the regular songs, the instrumentals bear no resemblance or continuation to one another. The phenomenal opener “Arrival/Departure” will instantly grab you with its hypnotic cut up vocal sample, but there is much more to demand your attention. The slight electronic feel of that song is taking “Up” a notch, so to speak. “Up” may just seem like a collection of sounds sewn together by racing strings, and maybe it is, but it sure sounds dope. The ever-popular Indian vibe is taken head on with “Sound of the Sitar.” I dare say it uses the sitar as well as any other song has, especially when the beat is flipped and then juggled. Unbelievable stuff. Again on a completely different vibe, “Research” packs a pulsing baseline sure to give your neck a cramp. “Speakers Hot” features some Prefuse 73ish intensity only to be shown up by the silky smooth “Always Being Born,” which lends itself to so many atmospheric descriptions.

OD is more than capable of lacing an emcee with beat to get loose over. True to the label of the release, his choice of forward-thinking emcees provide not-so traditional songs. Hymnal delivers his clever rhymes in more of a spoken word style on both “Robert L. Ripley” and “Club Apotheosis.” His believe it or not inspired rhyme works the best as his latter offering is tremendously overshadowed by the beat. Indy heroes Slug and Aceyalone and Legends Luckyiam.PSC and Murs team up for a nice posse cut called “Live From Tokyo.” Incidentally, they are in a studio, not in Japan. Buck 65’s “Double Header” is the best of the bunch, if anything for his monologue to open the song. Much like Hymnal’s “Club Apotheosis,” Abstract Rude and 2Mex’s “Myth Behind The Man” is purely a show-stealing performance by Omid.

As you would know if you read my ‘Best of 2003’ list, Omid’s “Monolith” ranked as my second favorite compilation of last year. Despite knowing Omid’s talent from his previous work this album far exceeded my expectations and constantly draws me for repeated listens. Don’t make the mistake of missing “Monolith.”

8/10