On 29th September I was stood in a small, scruffy smelling room crowded with black figures whose faces I could not see. Some lurched forward as if in pain but then they’d throw up an arm; an action of rejoice, of expression, these creatures were in a static ritual with hoods facing the front.
The only lights were green and pointed down on to the instruments on stage. I had squeezed through past the vacant dozers at the back and pushed forward towards the light, the bass sound had crashed over them and they were washed up on the sound board, bags, hoodies and jumpers littering the floor. But the music had only just started. I left them behind and entered a rumbling twilight zone, here the figures swayed and jostled for position, prying to see the eternals on stage.
Bent over and crooked Al Cisneros whispered into the mike. The poetry and cadence made me think of an ice skater on a black lake, erudite in flow and movement on a treacherous surface that threatens to crack and engulf at any moment. Only there wasn’t an ice skater, we were standing on the blackness and at that Al smirks and dropped a few more lines knowing what’s coming.
The true back bone is Emil Amos whose new card shuffle is the core of the room, the hoods nodding watching his rhythm, double tap, tap, double tap, tap, double tap, tap, the room inhales when there’s a ghost note, and Al slips a bare foot on to a small black pedal in the centre of the stage and that black lake, the darkness of the room erupts with a roar. The vacant dozers are all eyes, those by the stage are flattened as the bass sound crashed and sliced with a new razor wire edge. I grabbed my heart to feel a pulse. Others threw limbs with cries of delirious agony, scrunched eyes and open mouths hailed the stage, a surge thrust forward, the ritual had gained motion, the static became charged and the vacant dozers had awoken to this harsh bass sound and moved with delight. My pulse quickened.
Then the eternals stopped. A dusty calm. The faceless figures turned in unison, in the light they were pilgrims, satiated by the ritual and chattering incessantly through various facial hair. Al Cisneros then stepped off stage and hurried through the wave of masses, his mortal body saturated by the efforts on stage, he walked right in to me, passing sweat-soaked limbs over mine I felt a cold shiver and knew the night was over.
The above is my account of Om’s gig at The Exchange in Bristol on the 29th September 2012. It felt like the gig had lasted for a thousand hours, even after I had arrived late and had to push through to get any sight of Al Cisneros, Emil Amos and new addition Robert Lowe.
I felt like ruminating over the show (which admittedly happened over a month ago and in internet time that’s almost a thousand years), after I had seen the new video for the song “State of Non-Return”, see below, off Om’s stunning 2012 release Advaitic Songs.
Comprised of live footage of the band playing the song, directed by Terrie Samundra, it reveals the new identity of Om as a trio. Of course the three have been playing together on the road for the best part of the last year, as I witnessed on the 29th, but it establishes them as a tight, in-the-pocket unit who are unified by their roots.