There seems to be a problem with communication between the people “running the show” and the people being entertained by it. A lot of suits are saying that the full-length album format is dead. Even some artists seem to agree with this theory and put out only singles or EPs instead of spending significant time crafting a full-length album.
The mystical trio Om, are definitely not of this lineage. Last year saw them drop their fifth studio album, Advaitic Songs, since their beginnings in 2005.
“It’s exciting to put your whole into something and then just be done. That’s what your life is like, It’s literally a life path for artists,” states bassist and vocalist Al Cisneros.
The monstrous double-album commands your attention with heavy bass lines, beautiful melodies and artwork to match. Along with drummer Emil Amos of Grails, multi-instrumentalist Rob Lowe of Lichens and a handful of guest musicians, the band has made a masterpiece of musical life.
When asked about the guest musicians, Cisneros recalled one story of tabla player Homnath Upadhyaya, “He is an amazing, amazing high level player. I had no idea the guy was so good. I was setting up the microphones while he’s tuning his tabla and it was like, ‘Holy Jesus Christ, I think this song is a little too boring for you.’ It worked out great though.”
Another surprising experience with a guest musician was with vocalist Kate Ramsey on the opening song “Addis”.
“We did that in one take. She doesn’t record, which is more incredible that her singing was like that. It was an amazing, amazing day to come into the studio. One of those times where while the tape is rolling, you’re hearing the song 30 years in the future. It’s fucking weird, really cool experience.”
The dreamlike and whimsical elements found on songs “Addis” and “Haqq al-Yaqin” is balanced by the hammering siege of “State of the Non-Return” and “Gethsemane”. Either path that you take leads to you the same enlightenment but to call them a stoner-doom metal band with eastern influences seems unfair and very limiting. Besides, ever since Brian Jones went to Morocco and recorded with the Master Musicians of Joujouka it seems that rock musicians would be pegged as such whenever they smoked some grass while a sitarist played.
“With art, its like breathing, you don’t hang on to the breath you took twenty minutes ago. That’s all it can be.”
Listen to him, he knows what he’s talking about. The man helped write one of the greatest and heaviest riff caravans of all time in the form of Dope Smoker with his previous main project Sleep. While most people would bask in the glory of acclaim, Cisneros compares it to a countless breath. Even with two critically-acclaimed and fan-adored albums in 2012, Dope Smoker being the first proper issue of the album that the band themselves are happy with, one would wonder if you’d stop to smell the roses?
“I guess at this point I try to look at it like a mandala made out of sand and its just all going to go away. That helps, that really helps with the very present moment and it being all there is. It’s a way of being present. Just think about that, there is the subject of erosion and even the sun will take out this planet. The pyramids are eroding into the land and the sun will eventually take out this system. So who cares, it’s an album and it came out good.”
Some might think of this as a nihilistic attitude rather than a peaceful one but it only looks dark because you’re looking from the light.
OM plays the Media Club on Sunday, February 10.
By Joe SmiglickiBC, British Columbia