Posted in Whathaveyou on December 13th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Hot on the heels of bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros quietly issuing a solo 7″, Om have announced a 12-day tour in February from Seattle to San Francisco. Having recently seen the band on their stop in New York (review here), I feel like I can say with some certainty that they’re delivering some of their best performances with the material from Advaitic Songs, and if you’re fortunate enough to catch them this go around, be prepared to start thinking of it as a religious ceremony.
The PR wire sees it like this:
OM ANNOUNCE WEST COAST TOUR IN SUPPORT OF ADVAITIC SONGS
OM have announced a run of West Coast dates this February, extending the group’s tour in support of 2012′s masterful Advaitic Songs full length on Drag City. Recently expanded to a trio with the inclusion of Robert AA Lowe (of Lichens), the band’s live presence has never been fuller, turning in performances of seemingly limitless spiritual and sonic depth. The tour begins in Seattle, and includes stops in Vancouver, Denver, Phoenix, Los Angeles, and more as gradually winds its way South before concluding in San Francisco.
OM UPCOMING TOUR DATES 2/8/13 Seattle, WA Highline 2/9/13 Portland, OR Doug Fir 2/10/13 Vancouver, BC Media Club 2/12/13 Salt Lake City, UT Urban Lounge 2/13/13 Denver, CO Larimer Lounge 2/15/13 Phoenix, AZ Crescent Ballroom 2/16/13 San Diego, CA Casbah 2/17/13 Santa Ana, CA Constellation Room 2/18/13 Los Angeles, CA Center for the Arts Eagle Rock 2/19/13 Santa Cruz, CA Don Quixote’s Music Hall 2/20/13 San Francisco, CA The Independent
Posted in Reviews on November 22nd, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
My office had cleared out pretty early, which I suppose was to be expected. And while I scrambled to get enough work done so that I wouldn’t come back from the Thanksgiving holiday already behind — not to mention Friday’s tasks so that others can have the day off and not be waiting on me; how considerate of them to ask if I had time to pound three days of work into one — I took solace in knowing that at very least I’d be missing the better part of traffic on the way to Manhattan’s Bowery Ballroom, where Om were headlining with Lungfish frontmanDaniel Higgs playing solo to support.
I suppose I did — miss most of the traffic, that is. Wednesday before Thanksgiving is both the biggest travel day and the biggest bar-business day of the year (which should account for all the flashing police car lights I saw on the way home), but I got into the city with minimal drama and only one real alone-in-the-car rant about how much I hate driving in New York, hate the people, too many people, fuck this, fuck that, and so on. Yelling at nothing is hardly the proper headspace for embracing Om‘s intimate sense of tonally warm ritual, but such are the flaws of human experience. In a perfect world, they’d play in temples in remote areas and going to see them would be a pilgrimage.
Come to think of it, that’s kind of what it was like seeing them at Roadburn earlier this year. In any case, the parking gods were kind to me and I got a space right across the street from Bowery Ballroom. I wasn’t late, but I wasn’t early either, and I knew I wanted to be up front for Daniel Higgs, though I didn’t even really know why yet. He was on stage when I walked up the stairs and into the venue proper, his set not started yet, but there all the same, sitting in his chair, plucking strings on his banjo. At one point, he pointed a thumb at the sound guy — who I recognized from when he used to work at the old Ace of Clubs when that was open; good for him moving up in the world or at least venue size — and said something about how the union made him stick to a strict start time.
That probably should’ve been a hint as to Higgs‘ level of interaction with the audience, but I didn’t really know what to expect going into his set. Something of a legend in the Dischord Records sense of the word within the D.C post-hardcore set, Lungfish released their first album in seven years in this year’s A.C.R. 1999, and Higgs‘ solo work has been running concurrent since 1998 at a fairly prolific clip. With a booming mostly-white beard and facial expressions to match his vocal manipulations that reminded me at points of “Dixie” Dave Collins from Weedeater, he quickly turned his banjo into more than its folksy reputation.
He touched on bluegrass groove, sure enough, and there may yet exist an alternate reality wherein what he was playing would qualify as “folk” in the traditional sense of being a music of the people — I’d like to see the place where that’s so, and I mean that with no condescension whatsoever — but with a variety of fingering techniques and runs through Eastern-sounding scales and sitar-esque mysticisms,Higgsdid more with a banjo in about 10 minutes than I’ve ever seen anyone do in my life. Periodic verses appeared, but he wasn’t running through songs in a setlist — the effect was more fluid than that, his approach more open. At one point, still playing his banjo as he was for all but the briefest of moments throughout, he said, “There are more verses to that song. I’m still learning them,” and then asked someone in the crowd what time it was and was much relieved to know how much time he had left.
It was entertaining to watch someone so clearly endeavored in artistry also be jubilant in his work. I feel like there’s an implication that if you’re doing what you love, you’re supposed to be somberly contemplative about it at all times, but Higgs was clearly enjoying himself and it stands to reason why. In his long run of verses, one in particular was a standout that went something close to, “Half-vulcan is enough to mind-meld/But not enough to ignore the pain/Of the mind control technologies that keep us near insane.” Higgs must have known it too, because he repeated it a second time — “For emphasis,” as he put it. My own affinity for the original Star Trek aside, his Vulcan salute was much appreciated. He wished that we all would live long and prosper and remember “this time” that every day should be Thanksgiving, talked about the hurricane for a bit but surmised we were all okay, since we were there.
Perhaps that was his only misstep, but how could he know how sick everyone is of talking about the storm? Higgs spoke about a Mosque under construction they passed on their way through Rhode Island that had a billboard in front of it with “100 million eggs” printed on it and then left the crowd to ponder the meaning, and all the while tapped his feet and played his banjo with an easy-seeming, natural but well-developed virtuosity that was at points as hypnotic to watch as it was to hear. Once or twice, he looked in a small notebook to refresh himself of other verses and kept a friendly vibe going straight through until he was done, peppering in bits of toyed-with national anthem, “The rockets’ red glare,” “Bombs bursting in air,” and so forth while working around the original notes of the song as casually as one might throw a handful of rocks into a river.
Their equipment was already set up and looked ready to roll, so when Higgs finished, it wasn’t an especially long break before Om came out on stage, one at a time, first Robert A. A. Lowe, who sat in front of his draped table in front of an assortment of synths, samplers, noisemakers and effects, a guitar off to his right and a couple tambourines on the floor to his left — like the secret ingredient, he was, even unto his own gear — then drummer Emil Amos, who looked on edge only until he took his place behind his drums and then suddenly the world righted itself, and finally Al Cisneros, whose shamanistic presence is furthered all the more by his on-stage humility, quiet speaking voice and entranced stage method. He grooves to Om playing it the way the notes themselves flow up, down, to the side.
His tone was clean for most of the set, and no matter what Cisneros does, he’s always going to be a focal point in the band — Sleep‘s legacy alone ensures that, never mind the quiet intensity he brings to Om, his cross-dogma lyrics, unique vocal style and cadence or the simple fact that he’s the only one of the three standing — but as they opened with “Sinai,” it was immediate how different a band Om has become since they first started out in the middle of the last decade. Lowe is obviously a factor. His is the first guitar that’s been heard on an Om record, and aside from rocking a tambourine like no one I’ve ever seen, the textures of synth and even vocals be brings have enriched the band’s sound exponentially. But Amos isn’t to be forgotten in this mix either.
Om‘s set, which was comprised entirely of material from their last three albums — 2007′s Pilgrimage, 2009′s God is Good(review here) and this year’s Advaitic Songs(review here) — was good enough that on my way out of the city, I took the newest record out of my trusty CD wallet in some vain attempt to continue the experience, and what I noted right away (and the sad part about this is it’s true, this is actually how I think when I listen to music) was that Amos, who seemed far back and distant on the album, was so much more an active part of the process on stage. His drumming is more than just a featured component, and particularly as he and Cisneros — and now Lowe as well — have been playing together over the course of two full-lengths, he’s become integral to Om‘s sound, his highly stylized and intricate play as responsible for carrying across the sense of journey in “Meditation is the Practice of Death” as Cisneros‘ basslines.
From there, Om unfolded a gorgeous string of intricate melodies, spiritually weighted grooves and the loud quietness that has come to typify what they do. A lack of cello made some of the arrangements different than on the album, but Lowe is a master at filling those spaces, such that “Cremation Ghat I” and “Cremation Ghat II” from God is Goodcould hardly be called lacking. As I’d been so bummed out on the crowd my last time at Bowery Ballroom, when Graveyard played, I was glad to note the audience for Om was decidedly less douche-tastic. You’re always going to get a few — Manhattan is nothing if not a playground for assholes of all shapes, sizes and levels of self-importance — but I don’t know if it was the holiday spirit, Om‘s steady vibing or my own choice to stay sober for the night not wanting to pull a dooey on a holiday weekend, but things seemed much more manageable in general. Maybe Om just chilled me the fuck out. Much needed, much appreciated.
A specifically transcendent moment was when Cisneros clicked into his distorted tone for “State of Non-Return” from Advaitic Songs, Amos meeting him with a precise whimsy in his intricate fills and Lowe making sure the atmosphere stayed consistent while also adding guitar to further the crunch. The heavier stretch and relatively straightforward material was an effective setup for the comparatively minimal “Gebel Berkal” — the 2008 single which served as Amos‘ introduction point to the band — and an ultra-quiet rearrangement of Pilgrimagehighlight “Bhima’s Theme” that found Cisneros quietly playing his bass and trading off vocals with Lowe, reciting the verse lines like incantations while Lowe answered back with spaces of operatic falsetto made ambient through echoing effects.
I was reminded a bit of Higgs, who had done some similar vocal experimenting — inviting the crowd to partake as well, of course — but the affect with Lowe in Om was entirely different. Amos left the stage for a time to give Lowe and Cisneros the space to explore, and they did. The feeling was open and otherworldly and the room, which had not exactly been lacking in this regard the whole show, once more began to sting my nostrils with sweet-smelling smoke. “Bhima’s Theme” gradually emerged, slow but recognizable, when Amos returned, and from my place in back by the bar, I watched as they brought the song up to maximum volume and then brought it back down again carefully, like putting down an artifact, and thus ended their set, Lowe‘s ethereal vocalizing being the last element to go. Cisneros took a quick bow and before one even had time to wonder if an encore was coming, the house lights were brought up and Motörhead was once more piped through the P.A., as though to hurry everyone out of the place.
Within about three minutes, I was back at my car, and with but the slightest hiccup of traffic leading into the Holland Tunnel, on my way home without incident. The busiest travel day of the year was over, I guess. Fine by me. I made it back to my humble river valley shortly after midnight — again, listening to Advaitic Songs en route — and made myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to replace the dinner I’d missed on account of the by-now-forgotten workday, thankful for the fact that there were still two slices of bread left to make such a thing possible. Maybe Higgs had the right of it.
Posted in Reviews on November 16th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Usually you don’t think of Six Organs of Admittance – the syllabically and emotionally weighted psych/folk incarnation of Comets on Fire guitarist Ben Chasny — as music in which the listening experience is relative to volume. Go figure that after nigh on 15 years and more headphone-ready contemplations than I think anyone can reasonably be asked to count, Chasny would present a record like Ascent(Drag City), which more or less flies in the face of his usual methods. Have at you, expectations.
Space rocking, freaking out on psych jams and, yeah, even proffering a bit of that fleet-fingered acoustic work that’s made Six Organs sound rich even at Chasny‘s most minimal moments, Ascentteams the guitarist/vocalist with — wait for it — his own band. That’s right kids. Backing Chasny‘s classic space rock thrust on cuts like opener “Waswasa,” “One Thousand Birds” or the catchy and bass-heavy later cut “Even if You Knew” is none other than Comets on Fire. Seems superfluous to say the two entities work well together, since Chasny is also in that band, but the songs on Ascentflat out rule.
The last Six Organs record, 2011′s Asleep on the Floodplain(review here) was touching on a more cohesive psychedelic fascination, but it’s still a pretty big jump from that to the rolling vinyl-set groove of “One Thousand Birds.” A cut like “They Called You Near” (is that a Blazing Saddles reference?) mounts an atmospheric build of chorus vocals and surrounding drone, and the solo acoustic “Your Ghost” — at least conceptually — could have come off any album since 2005′s School of the Flower, but “Waswasa” is high-order heavy psych, and the shoe-gazing pastures of “Close to the Sky” keep a heady Dead Meadow-style sensibility to them that culminates in a swirling, cathartic-sounding solo. Even the dreamy closer “Visions (from Io)” is complete in a way Six Organs has shown little prior interest in being. Maybe it was something Chasny needed to get off his chest. What the fuck do I know.
However much of Ascentwas captured live — obviously things like Chasny‘s multi-tracked vocals weren’t, but the instrumental jams easily could’ve been — it sounds vibrant and organic thanks at least in part to the production of The Fucking Champs‘ Tim Green, and the project’s long-heralded experimental penchant is presented clearly with varying underlying noises, drones, at time buried in the mix, at time consuming it, as with the rising electric solo to ultimate prominence in contrast to the acoustic beginnings of “Solar Ascent.” Ideas like that have been fair game for Six Organs for a while, but it’s the context that’s different, the full-band feel and what that full band is proffering that marks the change.
They’re touring the record, and though I’ve never seen Comets on Fire, I have caught Chasny as Six Organs before, and it should be interesting to see him as a “frontman” for a full band. In any case, with Ascent, he and his Comets cohorts have made a record distinct from either entity’s discography and yet inextricably part of both. Most importantly, the songs engage with the depth of melody thatthankfully continues to typify Chasny‘s work in the band, and despite the boom in the accompaniment department, the music remains undeniably his own.
New Om anything is good news, and this video for the song “State of Non-Return” just premiered today. The song comes from Om’s excellent 2012 offering, Advaitic Songs(review here), and the clip was directed by Terrie Samundra, shot as performance footage from when they put the album to tape, giving a sense of some of the serenity the trio is able to find from heavy tones and the roots of some of their influences.
Find it on the YouTube embed below, followed by accompanying info off the PR wire:
OM just debuted a video for “State of Non Return” from their latest LP Advaitic Songs. It’s an intimate black and white performance video from the recording sessions for the album, showing off both how effortless they make playing it look, as well as how much depth went into the overall process. They’re kicking off a tour in Chicago in a couple of weeks – full dates below.
Full US Tour dates (all with Daniel Higgs) Sat-Nov-17 Chicago, IL Empty Bottle Sun-Nov-18 Toronto, ON Great Hall Mon-Nov-19 Montreal, QC Il Motore Tue-Nov-20 Boston, MA Brighton Music Hall Wed-Nov-21 New York, NY Bowery Ballroom Fri-Nov-23 Philadelphia, PA Johnny Brendas Sat-Nov-24 Baltimore, MD Ottobar Sun-Nov-25 Chapel Hill, NC Cat’s Cradle Mon-Nov-26 Atlanta, GA 529 Tue-Nov-27 Nashville, TN Mercy Lounge Wed-Nov-28 Bloomington, IN Bishop
Posted in Reviews on August 13th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Om’s exploration of spiritually resonant drone continues. Advaitic Songs takes its title from a reference to the Hindu school of thought regarding the self and a greater whole, and the band’s fifth album (second to be released through Drag City) is their most sonically expansive yet, the sense of communion that’s been imbued into their work since 2005’s Variations on a Theme no less prevalent for the lushness it’s grown into over the last seven years. Bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros (also Sleep) is the constant factor, and drummer Emil Amos (also Grails) has been aboard since 2008, but new to Om’s last album, 2009’s God is Good, was the tentative inclusion of multi-instrumentalist Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe (also Lichens), who added tambura and backing vocals to flesh out songs like “Thebes” and the two-part “Cremation Ghat” closing duo. Lowe, now a full-time member of the band, seems to have had a liberating effect on the band’s sound, which feels limited now either by genre or some perception of what it’s supposed to be. The five tracks/43 minutes of Advaitic Songs hold fast to Om’s always contemplative sense of aural journey, but whether it’s Jackie Perez Gratz of Grayceon’s cello on “State of Non-Return” – a gorgeous accompaniment for Cisneros’ bass, Amos’ drums and Lowe’s piano that appears several times here throughout – or the beginning chant that sets the mood of opener “Addis,” it’s readily apparent right from the start of the album that Om have shed the minimalism that was so much a marker of their earliest work in favor of a richly atmospheric psychedelia that is, among other things, entirely their own sonically. Simply put, there isn’t another band that sounds like Om do on Advaitic Songs – yet – and the grace which with they execute this material, coupled with Steve Albini’s production, gives the album a sense of mastery that wasn’t there either on God is Good or its 2007 predecessor, Pilgrimage. As the latter was the last album Cisneros made with former Sleep drummer Chris Hakius and God is Good the first with Amos and the introduction of Lowe to the recorded incarnation of the band – he’d done several tours with them already, if I recall correctly – it makes sense to think of Advaitic Songs as, if not an arrival (which would negate the sense of transience both in the music itself and in terms of the shifts that have gone into its creation; they are anything but stagnant), then a landmark along the way of Om’s continuing journey.
And whatever the root cause is for the trio (it still feels strange thinking of Om as a three-piece) to move in this more lush direction, unquestionably at least some of the shift is a result of the lineup involved. Amos has long explored a wide variety of sounds and styles in Grails, but though his drumming on Advaitic Songs, much of the textures across these tracks seems to be traceable to Lowe, who plays the x-factor role well, adding piano here, guitar there, vocals here and, in the second half of “Addis,” following Gratz in a descending progression that sets a bed for the chanting vocals – either a sample or a guest performance – that telegraph the notion that though he’s the lone original member at this point, Om is not just about Cisneros, but about the whole of the band. In fact, but for a minimal bass line that follows the patterning of some of the percussion, he’s barely there at all, and it’s not until the more distorted tone of “State of Non-Return” kicks in that the bassist really makes his presence felt. That’s not a negative for the record, however, since the mood that the opener sets is so vivid, and “State of Non-Return,” though it’s probably the heaviest-sounding song Om has ever made, keeps that mood always at the fore. The cello provides an instrumental chorus, but the song revels in its heft in its own subdued way, working counter to the idea of “heavy” as an intangible aspect of creation which Om has always conveyed in their atmospheres – that is, “heavy” without the crush – but not really contradicting it, as the wavy groove of “State of Non-Return” will be immediately familiar and recognizable to anyone who has experienced any of Advaitic Songs’ predecessors or seen the band live. It’s just fuller, which, again, could be and probably is on some level a result of the added personnel, i.e. Lowe and Gratz, who feel no less committed to the overall vibe of the record than do Cisneros or Amos. However much Cisneros is a focal point for Om because both of his massive influence as a part of Sleep and the considerable impact he’s had with this project already to date, Om is now a full band and Advaitic Songs is a full-band. Parts of it are damn near orchestral.
Posted in Reviews on January 31st, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
If the Wikipedia count is to be believed, then including 7”s, EPs, full-length albums and the occasional limited-to-100-copies CDR, Asleep on the Floodplain (Drag City) is the 25th release from Six Organs of Admittance. Starting with 1998’s self-titled and weaving his way through a number of multi-album experiments and sonic phases, Californian singer/songwriter Ben Chasny (also of Comets on Fire) has kept a base of neo-folk and acoustic guitar across the Six Organs of Admittance discography, and on the latest, he scales back some of the fuller sounds of his previous album, Luminous Night, and returns to the home-based recording style of records like 2003’s Compathia. The main difference is the growth the ensuing eight years has brought about and Chasny’s depth of melodic range. In atmosphere, despite a contribution from Elisa Ambrogio on “River of My Youth” and some natural-sounding drones accompanying electric strums on “Brilliant Blue Sea Between Us,” Asleep on the Floodplain is lonely. Not empty, and not Chasny‘s most minimal work, but very solo sounding.
The album opens instrumentally with “Above a Desert I’ve Never Seen,” displaying immediately one of Chasny’s greatest strengths in its lyrical guitar lines. He doesn’t use guitar to substitute for vocals where there aren’t any, instead capturing a listener’s attention in a completely different way. His deft fingering has always made Six Organs of Admittance stand out, and that carries over to Asleep on the Floodplain. “Light of the Light” is a shorter, vocal song with a memorable melody that leads well into “Brilliant Blue Sea Between Us.” That three of the first four tracks on the album are instrumental should say something about Chasny’s focus, but the actual feel of Asleep on the Floodplain is so smooth-running that the water-based thematics come off as all the more appropriate. The title of the album, “Brilliant Blue Sea Between Us,” “Saint of Fishermen” and “River of My Youth” all contain some reference to water, and the flow of the songs speaks to that being on purpose. Could just as easily be me reading into it, but the transitions between instrumentals that leads into “Hold but Let Go” – the centerpiece and highlight cut for those craving vocals and structure – is soothing no matter what images you want to place over-top.
Posted in Features on January 17th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’d have done a 2011 list earlier, but honestly, after the massiveness that was the top 20 countdown, I needed a break from all the list-type stuff. Next thing I knew, January was more than halfway over and no predictions had yet been made about what some of the best things to come would be. Just shameful.
This is just going to be a two-parter, and I’m keeping it to five albums on each list for a total of 10 records to look forward to in 2011. If that’s not enough for you, well, stay tuned, because I’m sure there’s going to be plenty more than 10 reviews posted this year. Hell, I think there already have been, so there you go.
The reason these are “the sure bets” is because I’ve already heard them and know they rule. Let’s get to it:
Lo-Pan, Salvador: The Ohio four-piece’s Small Stone label debut full-length has “classic” written all over it. I heard some rough mixes back in December and I’ve heard some less-rough mixes now, and I honestly haven’t felt this way about a straightforward stoner rock record since I heard the first Sasquatch album in 2004. The songwriting is brilliant, the performances masterful and the production stellar. You’re gonna shit when you hear “Chichen Itza” and “Deciduous.”
Crowbar, Sever the Wicked Hand: It’s kind of funny, but Crowbar influenced a whole younger generation of bands and on Sever the Wicked Hand, it sounds like that younger generation has re-influenced Crowbar, or at least reminded them of what they do best. Some of the material on Sever the Wicked Hand is a little fast, but there are some real quality tracks, and at this point it’s been so long I’m just glad they have a new record out.
Earth, Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I: Part one in a series of two new works by Earth , Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I (review here) brings cello accompaniment to Dylan Carlson‘s trademark drone guitar, filling out the sound with a subtle and melodic lushness it’s never before had. Earth are never going to be for everyone, but their latest should delight longtime fans and catch a couple newcomers as well.
Weedeater, Jason… the Dragon: Sludge meets swampy Southern blues on the latest record from the North Carolinian outfit which, like Earth, will be released via Southern Lord in March. Their sound is as nasty as ever, but there’s evidence of stylistic branching out in songs like “Homecoming” and “Palms of Opium,” and it’s exciting to hear the band trying new things, especially when they work. Full review is here.
Six Organs of Admittance, Asleep on the Floodplain: I’ve been a nerd for this Ben Chasny solo project for a number of years now, and on his new record, which is due out on Drag City on Feb. 22, the Comets on Fire guitarist does away with some of the psychedelic and/or droning aspects of the last couple albums in favor of a return to acoustic solo-songwriter material. Translation: He’s right in his element. More to come.
Tomorrow we’ll do Pt. 2, which will be full of pure speculation, and thus a lot of fun.
Posted in Whathaveyou on December 14th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
Drag City has news about the new record from neo-folk outfit, Six Organs of Admittance, otherwise known as guitarist/vocalist Ben Chasny (Comets on Fire) and friends. The album, to be titled Asleep on the Floodplain, follows last year’s Luminous Night and is definitely something to look forward to in the New Year.
The label sent this down the PR wire:
Comprised of 10 blissful, primarily acoustic tunes, a delicacy wafts forth from Asleep on the Floodplain, the new album by Six Organs of Admittance. After 2009′s sonically dense Luminous Night, Chasny returned to the familiar environs of home recording to sculpt and assemble this batch of jams, freeing himself from the restrictions and deadlines studios might normally impose upon a song. Thus creating a living nest in which this material could grow and breathe, the album took longer to complete but sounds effortless– and bright with light. Much of Asleep on the Floodplain draws on imagery from Chasny‘s youth, a time spent in Elk River. “Dawn, Running Home” remembers sleep-overs in a friend’s tree-fort and the subsequent morning return to Ben’s own house. Maintaining Six Organs‘ penchant for cameos, Elisa Ambrogio magik-ally contributes to “River of My Youth.” The theopoetics of Catherine Keller resonate on “S/Word and Leviathan”; while Gaston Bachelard‘s poetics of reverie are felt throughout the record.
Working alone allowed for what could be described as a more cohesive album, giving Chasny time to reflect and make his own conclusions about how a song should move, or when it was finished, in his own time. To that end, each song is memorable of it’s own volition, yet drifts as necessary onto the common plane of Asleep on the Floodplain. Six Organs of Admittance has completed a new album, and we wish to share it with you so that you, in turn, will share it with others. Allow the comfort of beasts, Asleep on the Floodplain.
Asleep on the Floodplain tracklisting:
1. Above a Desert I’ve Never Seen
2. Light of the Light
3. Brilliant Blue Sea Between Us
4. Saint of Fishermen
5. Hold but Let Go
6. River of My Youth
8. S/Word and Leviathan
9. A New Name on an Old Cement Bridge
10. Dawn, Running Home
I’ve decided not to give it a full review, because it’s been out for a while already and because I paid for it (with my blood, sweat and pseudo-intellectualism), but God is Good, Om‘s first record for Drag City is worth some comment anyway. The digipak came to me in my latest All that is Heavy order, and I’ve been grooving on its moody sensibilities and stoned spirituality ever since. Turns out I was right to look forward to hearing it.
Of course, the big story here is that it’s the first Om record without Chris Hakius on drums. When bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros announced Hakius was out of the band, I scoffed, said there was no way they’d be any good. Mostly because I’m a cynical dick and that’s usually the way things work. As I’ve said several times on this site and elsewhere, Om are better with Grails‘ Emil Amos behind the kit. I don’t know if it’s his experimental tendencies or just that Hakius had gotten bored with Om‘s breadth, but God is Good surpasses 2007′s Pilgrimage in every way possible.
More than that, it shows Om expanding its horizons. Not necessarily lyrically — Cisneros is sticking to his guns there — but with a tamboura from Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe on 19-minute opener “Thebes,” and later on the much shorter “Cremation Ghat I” (3:11) and “Cremation Ghat II” (4:58), Om‘s sound is undergoing a subtle progression that is well suited to what fans have come to expect from them. God is Good presented Cisneros with a great chance to change things up since so much was already going to be different with 50 percent of the band brand new.
“Meditation is the Practice of Death” (6:51) boasts a flute and solid musical conversation between Cisneros and Amos. More even than the expansive “Thebes,” it’s here the chemistry between the two players can be heard. Doubtless Steve Albini‘s production had something to do with bringing that out, but even he wouldn’t be able to fake that if it wasn’t there in the first place.
The point, since it’s about time to get there, is if you’ve been sitting on your hands and waiting to hear God is Good, it’s worth checking out. I’ve come across complaints that the “Cremation Ghat” tracks are too short, but every Om record since their 2005 debut, Variations on a Theme, has been under 35 minutes, and this is right in there. If people are longing for more, take that as a sign of the general success of the work and don’t deny yourself the chance to hear it.
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 11th, 2009 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s a miserable morning/afternoon to wake up to here in the valley, rainy and cold, and one gets the sense that any second now every single leaf on every single tree out my window is going to die and fall off and by 3PM it’s going to be winter. As I have tickets to the Yankees game later, I certainly hope that doesn’t happen.
If there’s something to save this wretched looking day, it’s new music from OM and Shrinebuilder, posted at Stereogum and on their MySpace page, respectively. It’s like a big Cisneros party. Because it doesn’t seem like it’ll crash the entire site, here’s “Cremation Ghat II” by OM:
Sorry, but I don’t have the technology to directly play a MySpace mp3, so if you want to hear “Pyramid of the Moon” by Shrinebuilder, you’re going to have to take the link above. If there’s anything worth leaving this site for (you can always come right back), that might be it.
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 23rd, 2009 by H.P. Taskmaster
Was doing some post-midnight lurking on the online, figured I’d share this mp3 posted by Drag City of the song “The Ballad of Charley Harper” by Comets on Fire guitarist Ben Chasny‘s Six Organs of Admittance, who blew my fucking mind at Roadburn when he broke out “Hum a Silent Prayer” from 2003′s Compathia. “The Ballad of Charley Harper” comes off his new album, Luminous Night, which is out on Drag City August 18. I wanna be friends with it.