Reevaluating OM – Advaitic Songs (2012, Drag City)

There was a lot of hype about this album from reviews when it came out. A lot. What the fuck is this? Mid-Eastern Coptic stoner music? By one of the guys who used to be in the uber-stoner band, Sleep? Jesus, that’s gotta be something. This is a bit of a description of a wet dream: experimental in a unique way, but based in stoner groves.

I had resisted this album, until word of mouth came to me. Reviews be damned: mates have a lot more influence than anything of that sort. So, after being familiar with their 2006 Conference of Birds album – which is pretty decent, I was open minded to trying them again.

The opener on Advaitic Songs, ‘Addis’, starts well enough – cello, tabula-sounding but heavy drums, female-vocal chants. All good. But, it’s a meditation on a riff – and it doesn’t really build all that much. Well, its repetition builds tension, waiting for it to explode in some blissed out, stoner glory. All head bobbing, spliffs, smoky lights. But, it’s just the same low-key meditation for 5 minutes, barely progressing. It’s all tension, no pay off.

The second track (less songs, more tracks, really) is the pay off. The bass is distorted to the point where three-blind mice would sound like a stoner riff; drums hammer a classic stoner beat, and the violins. This is more like it. But, there’s a lack of progress in the song – again, meditation takes control until the last two minutes where a string section gives some depth to the overly-long fade.

I’ve never been a massive fan of stoner music, to be honest. The first five Black Sabbath albums are classics and contain some fantastic things on them, but most of it’s basically slowed-down, tuned-down, fuzzed-up blues rock riffs. There’s some great stuff, but it’s an easy music to make. Eh. It is and always has been – I just don’t care about the groove, maaaaaan, enough to find that the attitude is so fucking boring. GET ON WITH IT, YOU CUNTS.

And, be honest, OM are shit at structuring things. They don’t seem to believe in the pay off. And I find this immensely frustrating, as the riffs they tend to meditate on are not great stoner riffs. And at least fucking post-rock bands give you a pay off occasionally. What’s the point in playing stoner music with barely a pay off? When does my head sore into the sky? When do I leave this planet during this? Never, I’m just always left waiting for it. Nothing happens, just what sounds like building and building and building because repetition of a fairly understated riff ends up with a massive pay off – not here. Fucking hell. I need to listen to something heavy and fun, now, something with a ‘fuck yeah!’ that this has none of.

Rating: Never, ever listen to mainstream music reviews, particularly about music you like. Essentially, OM – fuck you and your tantric music.

PS. I turned on NEW BOMB TURKS – Information Highway Revisited (1994) . It’s great, it has fucking swagger, and pay off a plenty. And one of the best kick-drumming drumers in the world, utterly relentless.

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