Drag City LP/CD
Advaita is the Hindu concept of non-duality – the idea that the human being is indistinguishable from the Godhead from which he sprang. I’m sure there are numerous metaphoric constructs that other reviewers will use to explain Om’s music but I prefer to think this title merely refers to the pan-religious themes the album explores.
Formed following the demise of stoner-doom legends Sleep, rhythm section Al Cisneros and Chris Hakius put their powerhouse bass and drums horsepower into Om. Hakius has since left, leaving Cisneros’ bass as the dominant instrument. The band have long since abandoned their minimalist machinations and only nominally retain the ‘heavy’ tag – rather they have moved into beguiling and less traversed territory.
The opening track ‘Addis’ features a female vocal chant which sounds like a religious hymnal or call to prayer, set across an unsettling backdrop. This backdrop never really alters, though the band explores all sorts of mournful instrumental textures, from the menace of ‘State of Non-Return’ to the cello-heavy riffing of ‘Haqq al-Yaqin’.
As intriguing and accomplished as Advaitic Songs is I found that the more I listened to it, the less I wanted to listen to it. Perhaps it was too much of an overdose to try and absorb this complex and multi-layered record in a week in order to write this review. This is the sort of album that takes time to digest over the course of a year or a decade - much like the religious texts from which it takes its inspiration.