Release DetailsLABEL Drag City
RELEASED ON 7/24/2012
posted on 8/2012 By:
Associate something with sex and it will stay with you forever. My first exposure to OM was via Pilgrimage back in 2007, and I must say that everything combined — from its 33-minute length to its deliberate pacing to its rich sonic texture — transforms earthly lovemaking into a near-transcendental experience. Such is the desired power of the band’s namesake throughout history, representing the All and Not-All, glimpsing the infinite, reducing ultimately to vibration.
Despite my getting down with the grimy groove of High on Fire and adoring the ancient art of Sleep, the other half of the latter’s monumental split escaped me… and after all, you can’t spell ‘DOOM’ without OM. Well actually, that seems less the case than ever these days. It's not until “State of Non-Return” that we get the familiar resonating bass of Al Cisneros, and we wait just as long to hear his voice.
The relative absence of Cisneros on opener “Addis” is telling, as additional musicians are more present than ever. Still, it almost feels like an extended intro, since Al is a founding member; but regardless of track length, every song has an intro of sorts, from Hindi chants and majestic processionals to infectious dirges and distorted raving.
The cello which tentatively emerged on God is Good is fully integrated throughout Advaitic Songs. Session player Jackie Perez Gratz grants the album’s most hummable melodies, adding rich layers of both welcoming warmth and mournful strains. Gratz has cropped up in more places than you probably know over the past few years; besides her main projects in Giant Squid and Grayceon, she's kept good company in session work with Agalloch, Neurosis, Cattle Decapitation, The Fucking Champs… Hell, just look her up and keep your ears open.
Another one to listen for is Robert A. A. Lowe. Now named as a proper band member, he performs either 'vocals, keyboards, percussion' (if one is to believe the Metal Archives) or 'additional vocals, tambura on “Gethsemane” and Sinai”' (if one is to believe Wikipedia). Either way, this all spells a denser, more adventurous journey — one that truly began when former Grails drummer Emil Amos replaced Chris Hakius. Amos feels as though he now understands how to complement the music better, but if he were more methodical and less explosive, the overall affect would be stronger.
And yes, a powerful pinnacle is reached in “Haqq al-Yaqin”. Translated roughly to mean the unveiling of the very vision and true essence of God. Consequently, it means the annihilation point of lovers because they must leave this plane (with potential further double meaning; the French, for example, identify orgasm as la petit morte, or “the little death”). Accompanied by flute and tabla, the song stretches well past the 11-minute mark with another haunting cello riff and brings the phoenix motif full circle.
And the phoenix has ascended
Gildes upon the divine wind
Liberates from the world sojourn
Honestly, this blend was inevitable. Founding drummer Chris Hakius is still naturally missed, and those of the mantric mindset may prefer simplicity, but from my armchair, I say OM sounds more complete than ever on Advaitic Songs. But hey, I'm still rooted heartily in the physical realm; maybe things will change around ascension.
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