Omianan - Paper Dream

Sara Kim on vocals, Thomas Hoeller on guitar, Nikko Whitworth on bass, and Jesus Caballero on drums.

Omianan - Paper Dream
The original image for this article is the music's cover image. Art by Jason Nam.

Omianan is a four-piece band that mixes progressive rock, indie rock, and contemporary jazz; the four members are Sara Kim on vocals, Thomas Hoeller on guitar, Nikko Whitworth on bass, and Jesus Caballero on drums. Omianan released Paper Dream, their first album, on February 25, 2022.

Background on the band Omianan

Although the band is not a traditional jazz group, it draws on the tradition of making jazz names from backwards place names: Airegin, Ecaroh, Nardis, Adanac, and now Omianan. The name almost rhymes with pollyanna.

Sara, Nikko, and Jesus had a particular history of playing together while studying at Capilano University, where Thomas also studied; but according to a CiTR interview from 2020, Thomas was the last member to join and officially complete the band.

The history of Omianan goes back at least to 2018, when they performed a Sofar gig. The band also released some demos on Bandcamp after doing that gig.

“Paper Dream”, the title track, is the only composition that appears on both the demo collection and the finished album. The two biggest changes are how they added bass improvisation at the beginning, and slowed down the tempo.

Omianan recorded the album in July 2021 with John Raham at Afterlife Studios.

Getting into the album Paper Dream

Overall, I enjoy Omianan’s music the most when it comes down to its softest, but they have an adventurous collection of moments to share on Paper Dream.

“At Last it Rained” has that feeling after a powerful number at a rock gig, when your ears need a rest and you space out to an isolated, reverberating guitar; but it builds for a while, too.

“Does it even matter to you that we don’t communicate at all?” Sara sings as the first lyric from “Forgotten Sibling”. Later, she sings, “Maybe it’s my fault,” and, “I just need to get over it.” This track also has that distinctly modern, jazz-school sound of vocals in wordless unison with guitar. But it has much more than just that, darting in and out of a couple different rock grooves.

“Bent But Not Broken” is the most folksy, and (therefore?) my favourite, track. It gives me the feeling of World Without Tears by Lucinda Williams, thanks to the delicate guitar sound.Thomas’ guitar drives this arrangement, and you get to feel a lot more space within the ensemble than on the other tracks. As the track winds down with unaccompanied bass, then chiming wordless vocals, I’m at ease.

“Punishment”, the last track, is a nice showcase for Sara and her great contributions to Vancouver’s creative and improvising music scene through multiple groups. She fits into the pocket of a well-crafted indie jazz arrangement, and as her voice doubles and the arrangement builds, Omianan sounds quite like their peers in the band Only a Visitor.

This long-anticipated album for Omianan’s core fans is a strong statement of genre-bending jazz. Look for them to make a strong return to the Vancouver jazz festival, ideally not only at Granville Island but at Ironworks, in the next year or two.

Listen to Paper Dream by Omianan on Bandcamp.

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