OM – Advaitic Songs

(Drag City Records)


Remember me? Course you fucking don’t.

Here’s a few words about why I don’t bother writing album reviews anymore: Who cares what I like? Fuck you. This bit shouldn’t even be here, but I’m leaving it in anyway.

OM are good aren’t they? At first blush you think ‘damn this is just some bloke twatting about playing single notes on his bass guitar for twenty minutes at a time’. But then you strap on the ear goggles (RIP MCA) for a closer inspection and you get something you didn’t reckon on; Groove. That’s with a capital-G. That’s what OM are about.

Previous works by OM have tended toward back-to-basics trading of rhythmic ideas between bass player Al Cisneros and ex-drummer Chris Haiku Hakius. Their first three records are an unequivocal statement about achieving a great deal with not very much; apparently simplistic elements coalescing into a deep and complex whole. That guy quit the band though and ever since the arrival of new drummer Emil Amos two records ago, OM have gently diversified their sound to incorporate a couple of well-selected new elements, the most striking of which is the dizzying drone of the tambura.

In fact there’s really only one song on this album that even remotely fits the OM template. Maybe one-and-a-half. State of Non-Return is a six minute wave of bass fuzz, washing back and forth over a crisply accented drum groove, and punctuated by a mournful cello ‘chorus’ section. Gethsemane is a richer composition still, and while bass guitar still takes a leading role, the sound is sculpted around a three minute canticle of angelic voices, giving way to the ebbing and swelling moods of the tambura and the tent-pole right hand of Amos, striking the ride cymbal bell like he’s counting down the end of the universe. Absent the trademark OM fuzz, it’s still a satisfying, intoxicating listen.

Elsewhere, you get Sinai, which treads similar ground to Gethsemane, but with variations of melody and orchestration; Haqq al-Yaqin is even more reliant on strings for texture and apart from the clockwork tick of Amos’ ride cymbal, the drums are entirely supplanted with tabla. Addis foregrounds sumptuous Hindi chants over a similarly understated musical landscape.

The BBC describes the sparing use of distortion as a ‘rude incursion’ into this record, which strikes me as a fucking idiotic thing to say in light of the fact that OM have been making bass sound dirtier than your arse-picking thumbnail since 2005 or whenever. If anything, this album could do with more fuzz, it seems to me. Not that I am complaining; if you want easy-going droning grooves to lose your mind to, good ol’ Al has got you well and truly covered throughout the back catalogue. That the last couple of records have shown an evolutionary step forward in OM’s sound is great news for drugs band fans everywhere. Wherever their travels take them next, I feel certain it’s a place I’ll want to visit.

meaningless arbitrary number out of ten, just read what i wrote you fucking nerd


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