OM

support DJ Jagger
author EW date 25/11/13 venue The Village Underground, London, UK

A new venue for me and a second chance to witness the ritual of OM. The spacious Village Underground was the setting, a venue in the painfully trendy part of town that is Shoreditch, to bring forth the meditative force of OM's transcendental music to an audience made up of stoners, doomsters, hipsters, old men, young women and everything inbetween. This, more so than the music, is usually the indicator to me of a band being accepted by the music-loving fraternity.

As was the case on OM's previous visit to London in September 2012, the support act chosen for the evening was not of a genre at all approximate to the evening's headlines. Last time it was the dubstep trio King Midas Sound; on this occasion it was simply a DJ - DJ Jagger - from within the sound desk area, spinning reggae vinyl from doors til OM's emergence over 90 minutes later. I will admit to having a knowledge of reggae that begins with Bob Marley and ends shortly after with UB40 so am not one to judge the artists and tracks he played, but in a shorter dose it would have been a highly effective welcoming music. Such a duration did appear to push the patience of a few by the latter stages but what the heck, we hadn't come here for the norm, and I was quite enjoying some of what he had to play.

The arrival of OM, to a lowly backlit stage drowned in moody blue lighting generated a distant aura in the member's silhouettes that when teamed with the slow scaling of the music made it hard not to be absorbed into their spell. Having always been a core duo with additional members thrown in as required, the full-time presence in this show of one Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe on all manner of instrumentation added a significant extra dimension to the sound of bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros and drummer Emil Amos. It was Lowe infact who became the highlight of the show for me and who, despite being permanently seated facing inwards to the stage, added plenty of energy whether playing percussion, lead guitar or keyboards, providing the greatest visual element of the trio. His occasional guitar leads were the best of the lot, adding a great deal of style and colour to the transcending beats being transmitted by his Cisneros and Amos.

The 75 minute set was barely broken by spoken word nor hardly a switchover between songs. Wisely using the vibe that is the very essence of OM's music, it was somewhat fitting that the only words spoken by Cisneros before a closing thank you were "Where is the weed?", subtly confirming (if any doubts lingered) of the psychedelic, and stoned, heart that beats through OM.

Opening with "Sinai" from last year's "Advaitic Songs", the band gradually moved through a trio of "God Is Good" tracks ("Meditation is the Practice of Death", "Cremation Ghat I", "Cremation Ghat II") but not without an artistic amount of improvisation around the edges of each, pushing what are already some lengthy tracks into deeper hazes of mediative feedback. This wasn't always successful however as it was hard not to sense that the band might not be fully sure of where they were heading at times, with some of Cisneros' playing feeling very loose and carefree in contrast to the rhythmic brilliance of his lead riffs. Issues were prevalent in the sound mix, with Amos' snare drum being much too tinny and loud for what it needs to say in their musical make-up. A touch disappointing this seeing how OM's sound is not nearly as complex as most of what I tend to listen to.

The slow exit of "Pilgrimage"'s "Bhima's Theme" brought to an abrupt a show which I had expected to continue beyond 75 minutes in length - I do s'pose a hasty inhalation might have been required out back to keep the mind flowing - as the brevity of which may well have left any number of the ticket buyers feeling a little short-changed on the quantity of live music during the evening. During their time though OM showed again how they are a band one can fall into a trance when witnessing them live; a state I wouldn't be surprised the band are half the time too.

All photos used with kind permission of Baris Unlu.

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