Review : Om - Advaitic Songs
PitchforkOm is a band that plays heavy music, and in their music they sing about heavy things: "Then the tomb release me," goes one passage on Advaitic Songs, "and the Phoenix rise triumphant. And walks into the solitude ground-- the soul submerge intense." As syntax, it's absurd. As content, it's absurd. That doesn't matter. What matters is Al Cisneros' delivery: sinister and premonitory, like an incantation to summon bad old things. Drums crash around him; cello and tamboura swirl. The distance between the truly awesome and the accidentally comedic in Om's music is always about a hairsbreadth.
For the sake of convenience, the band has always been classified as metal, but that's only for the sake of convenience. On Advaitic Songs, they cherrypick from Sufism, Catholicism, and Hinduism. One curious Yahoo! Answers user wonders if they are Satanic or Christian or Neither. Cisneros is deep into chess, and was formerly the bassist for stoner-metal paradigm Sleep, a band that wrote an entire 50-minute song called Dopesmoker. Om is not exactly metal; they're pan-global mystical music for the heavy-metal demographic.
Their first few albums, recorded exclusively by Cisneros and drummer Chris Hakius, were exercises in spreading as few notes over as much time as possible while still maintaining a clear, heavy groove. Part of what made them so powerful is how pared down they were. Ignore the shimmering Catholic icon paintings and the pan-Arab flourishes: If anything made Om's music religious, it was the sparseness of their sound, as committed and underfed as a monk....full text
ConsequenceofsoundAs the era of legendary stoner metal outfit Sleep came to a close, bassist Al Cisneros and drummer Chris Hakius moved on to form the experimental, droning metal of OM. Hakius later left and his spot was filled by Grails percussionist Emil Amos. The band in its new iteration has pushed further into psychedelia and mysticism, the slow-churning oceans pushing for something like a religious ecstasy. On Advaitic Songs, their second album with Drag City, Cisneros and Amos reach their meditative high thanks to more religious imagery, mantra-like vocals, and a healthy helping of strings, tabla, and chants.
The incense hangs heavy from the start, as album opener “Addis” rides in on Eastern-tinged female chanting, tabla, and cello. In fact, individuals uninitiated into the church of OM may not have any idea that this is a metal album and instead consider that they’ve wandered into the midst of some foreign rite. As the distorted bass rush of the following track, “State of Non-Return”, kicks in, that impression is immediately changed, the incense mingling with dope smoke. The strings remain, adding an Electric Masada pulse to the whole thing, and Cisneros’ brassy talk-singing hits every polysyllabic word like he’s about to free your mind.
The religious imagery continues on “Gethsemane” and “Sinai”, two ten-and-a-half minute suites of decadent hypnosis. The former works off of a spiraling drone, poly-rhythms, and slinky bass richness, all with more of Cisneros’ shadowy monk delivery. “Back toward Lebanon, priest ascending,” he intones over the bassy slither on the latter, clashes of cymbal and string broadening the scene....full text
GuardianAs one-third of Sleep, bass player Al Cisneros was responsible for taking stoner rock to its logical extremes. With Om, however, he has pursued something altogether loftier: a spiritual expedition into the dynamics of heavy music. While their previous album, God Is Good, fell some way short of transcendental, Advaitic Songs sees Cicero putting his money where his mantra is. State of No Return may be a familiar blast of bass-heavy sludge, but the rest of the album is a hugely seductive mix of droning strings, tablas, chants and melodies (both eastern and western) woven together in a hazy melange of rock at its most languorous. By the time the 10-minute closer Haqq al-Yaqin creeps up on you, you could easily be lying on a chaise longue, smoking opium with a decadent, orientalist earl as he plays you his private-press prog records. Yes, it's really that good....full text
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