Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Music Review: OM - God Is Good
The online stoner community (is that an oxymoron?) was up in arms over the announcement that OM founding drummer Chris Haikus was leaving the band. Remember the Genesis album And Then There Were Three? OM’s God Is Good could have been subtitled And Then There Was Uno.
A brief history is probably in order. In the early ‘90’s the three piece Sleep were pioneers of the so-called stoner movement. Their most infamous recording, Dopesmoker was only released years after they had disbanded, and consisted entirely of one song, the 73 minute title track.
Drummer Chris Hakius and bass player Al Cisneros formed OM in 2003 and released three records together. Due to those ever popular “creative differences” Hakius left OM in 2008, and (pardon the pun) everyone thought OM were doomed.
Not so. God Is Good is every bit the stoner classic that 2006’s Conference Of The Birds was. The first cut on God Is Good is the 19 minute “Thebes,” an extended saga on par with Birds’ “At Giza.”
“Thebes” opens up with the droning tamboura of guest Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe. Cisneros’ bass then enters the mix, playing a line reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun.”
Lyrically, I have no idea. And it probably doesn’t matter. Here are the first lines of “Thebes”: “Descends supine grace of the luminant, attunes to access light of celestial form.” Praise the Lord and pass the bong, I guess.
Much has been made of the use of flute on track two, “Meditation Is The Practice Of Death.” Sure, flute may not be the most metal of instruments, but I think it fits the mood of the track perfectly. The insistent drone of their music isn’t exactly Slayer, and the flute adds to the distant subject matter of the song.
The final two tracks on God Is Good are titled “Cremation Ghat I” and “Cremation Ghat II.” Both are instrumentals, with some chanting, and "I" in particular suggests a different direction for OM. The tempo is increased considerably, and the drum sound of new member Emil Amos is very prominent.
On “Ghat II,” Lowe’s tamboura reappears, and the song goes into a strange “Blue Jay Way,” middle section for a while, before resolving itself.
Stoners, Tibetan chant enthusiasts, and fans of psychedelic music should all check out God Is Good. Like Current 93’s recent Aleph At Hallucinatory Mountain, this music inhabit’s a fascinating spiritual realm. The rumor that these guys are Christians just adds to the mystery for me.