April 1, 2012

OM - Pilgrimage (2007)

It's rainy and muddy and windy outside but, despite being Sunday, I'm keeping it pretty chill. And few things are more chill than OM.

OM (as in the sacred Buddhist/Hindu syllable) is the band formed in the wake of the demise of the almighty Sleep, when Al Cisneros (bass, vocals) and Chris Hakius (drums) decided they wanted to keep playing stoner doom. So you might assume that OM is just Sleep reloaded, but you'd be wrong, as the rhythmic duo went in a completely different direction, incorporating a lot of influences from Tibetan and Indian music and thus crafting a unique sound that's labeled as stoner doom only because saying ambiental mystical meditative chanting droning doom would take too much time.

I guess you could call OM a drum'n'bass outfit, if you would happen to be an asshole, and you'd be right (although you'd still be an asshole). The music is minimal and stripped off of all unnecessary additions, using the bass and drums to create a strange, reflecting atmosphere that wouldn't feel out of place in a spiritual healer's hovel. Al Cisneros' vocals have took a turn for the sacred, as he's chanting mystical lyrics about the sun and the practice of reincarnation in true new-age hippie fashion. The bass lines have a trance-inducing quality to them, while the drumming is similarly hypnotic, employing steady rhythms and tambourine hits to lead the listener into ever-lasting bliss. Even with so few instruments at their disposal, OM's music manages to be surprising and dynamic, as the songs flow through various territories: you've got quiet, contemplative pieces such as Pilgrimage and you also get more upbeat, chaotic compositions like Bhima's Theme, with its unnerving, distorted bass lines and menacing chanting.

Don't be put off by the angel depicted on the cover, Pilgrimage is still metal as fuck and OM has proven to be a fascinating evolution upon the heavy doom roots of Sleep. Give this a listen and, as long as you don't expect to find a Dragonaut cover in there, you should be fine.

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