Al Cisneros - Ode to the Shrinebuilder - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #67

For the last few days I’ve been ill, as ill as an ill thing that had too much to drink last night, which has been impeding my training and led to me slinking about my flat in darkness feeling like royal arse listening to nothing but Om on repeat, I already had that angst-generating bile-vent over the abomination that was Live Conference but for full spiritual recovery amongst terrible illness (it isn’t that terrible, it’s quite bearable really, I just like whining) there has been nothing else on the turntable but Om’s side of the Om/Current 93 2006 split Inerrant Rays of the Infallible Sun (Blackship Shrinebuilder). This ain’t gonna be an over-spill of word vom like normal, it’s only eight minutes, but getting longer every listen and it’s oh-so-juicy.

Those familiar with the Shrinebuilder project will recognise this stuff; for those who aren’t, firstly slap yourself and by way of explanation it’s an accumulation of the biggest people of that sweet period of 80s 90s underground American metal into a kind of superstar tag-team, including Al Cisneros. They don’t produce songs so much as lengthy sound collages of all the best bits of each individual contributor and Al’s contribution is stunningly muscular ballads cut from the Conference of the Birds Om template and then spending a few months drinking protein shakes and working hard at the gym until they resemble an entire Mongol battalion charging across the holy land. It isn’t an improvement on the Om formula but it’s refreshing, as cool as a breeze across the Arabian desert. The mission of Om’s thuddingly heavy stealth bomber (on its way to Baghdad in these peace-devoid times, it being amongst this middle-east aesthetic, no fucking doubt) has always been a spiritual one. For every move the thudding bass and trampling hooves of the drums bring the Om sound towards doom metal of more crush-oriented cats like Bongripper, the nonconfrontational production shrinks away from an equal amount. These trips are spiritual, the heaviness can be appreciated from a carefully calculated distance like a test on Bikini Atoll. Meditation is the key engagement requested of us, and it’s chimed well with me, because I’ve learned that meditation isn’t always a Tim Leary approach, you can meditate while running, or while having sex. There are energetic meditations and this is certainly the disk for those pleasures. It’s Conference of the Birds-circa Om but with a bit of that Shrinebuilder bulked-up-ness (despite just being Cisneros and Haikus as far as I can tell) and it’s on steroids.

I felt compelled to defend a great Om release I just got my hands on after gutting a previous one. I advise you to check out every release except Live Conference and Gebel Barkal, and as a listening tip, they get softer as they go on, not in any quality sense, just the music becomes less harsh as time goes on, diluted but still meditatively essential. The whole outfit is carried out with an almost psychic perception of those nontangible musical thangs that just hit you that is the trademark of all of Om’s best work (and the downfall of all their worst). What I love most is the backwards feedback tail-off that just snaps. The whole song comes back down to land at Nellis after only eight minutes which is practically Indy 500 for Om and is executed at a pace that makes Conference of the Birds look like the fat kid who skips gym class. The other reason I wanted to hip y’all to this piece of yawp is that splits are so often overlooked, often because they’re just advertising exercises featuring vivisectioned songs not fit for public consumption, and even the die-hard heads can skip them for reasonable fear of getting burned. I haven’t talked about the Current 93 side of this LP and I won’t except to say that it’s good, and worth hearing for Om heads and with its increased pace and lively limbs might just be the place to start. As a counterpoint for my lambasting of that grotesque crawling John Carpenter runoff, enjoy Om, just the right Om. Peace.

Written under duress by Steven.

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