• London
  • United Kingdom
  • The Underworld
  • 2007-07-13

The word Om appears simple and straightforward, yet in reality, or spirituality, offers a profound resonance (pun intended). Similarly, Om the band appear so simple and straightforward — just two people, and two people who play ten or twenty minute pieces essentially formed of just one riff — however, living up to the power of the word taken as their name, Al Cisneros and Chris Haikus (formerly of Sleep and previously the recently reclaimed Asbestosdeath) have perfected the art of the musical mantra, taking the spiritual power of repetition to the noise-loving masses.

The sanskrit word Om is a sacred syllable made up of three sounds (‘a’, ‘u’ and ‘m’) which are seen to represent various spiritual triads such as Brahma/Vishnu/Siva, creation/preservation/destruction or waking/dreams/deep sleep (leading ultimately to silence and fulfillment). Congruently, the music created by Om’s two players is also at face value a three pronged form — bass, drums and vocals — and can equally be seen to be combining the latter two symbolic references noted above, and therefore probably the Godly representations also. The tripartite structure of creation, preservation and destruction could be applied to all songs but it is not just in the clear and apparent focus given to these elements in the music Om play but in its essence and style and in the mood created which makes it seem far more relevant.

by the time the switch was flicked and the psychy riff turned into a belting distorted crunch the whole crowd had been drawn into the motions

Opening with “At Giza”, the first of last year’s second album Conference of the Birds’s two tracks, ‘frontman’ Cisneros appeared nervous and almost faultering along through the opening few minutes and quieter strains — the many years’ experience performing in bands seemingly offset by a equally long adoration of the queen influence of the Sleep classic Dopesmoker — however, as the song developed, Cisernos came out more and more and built with the hypnotic whirls of the repeating riff. As it pulsed forward, the bass-work moved further around, inverting and adding to phrases as Cisernos enthused and became as active and fluid as the forever mobile Haikus — whose feet never seemed to stop, even at the most hushed of breakdowns. By the time the switch was flicked and the psych riff turned into a belting distorted crunch the whole crowd had been drawn into the motions and became caught up in the carthartic simultaneous convergence of creation, preservation and destruction — waking some up, and sending others deeper into contented dream-like escapism or the sleep-like head-nod.

Although offering less obvious dynamic shift than “At Giza”, the following Conference track “Flight Of The Eagle” actually gave much more in the way of capturing build up and growth in its continuous looping stoner dirge, the near monotone vocals working equally with the deep bass and steady but loosely shifting drum affectations to create the mantra. After this track the band offered a glimpse of new material, which thankfully takes shape in exactly the same vein as ever, and as was also diplayed within the rendition of “To The Shrinebuilder” from the split with Current 93. Om played out a set which was both impressive and more captivating with a minimum of riffs than a lot of bands are with ten times the amount. Fascinating and fun (despite the serious nature of this review), Om are a definite live must.

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