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Tasty! - 85%

Googunhine, January 19th, 2013

The bassist and vocalist of stoner metal group Sleep joined forces with the drummer of the Eastern-themed post-rock instrumental collective known as Grails to put out one of the most eclectic and anticipated albums of 2012. This isn't the first OM record to feature Al Cisneros, Emil Amos, and their resulting collision of Oriental expertise, as 2009's God is Good marked the beginning of a new chapter in the OM saga. Advaitic Songs acts as a continuation of that album, and should not be listened to out of context, though will definitely hook new listeners looking for a refreshing burst of different music.

The duo that comprised OM originally featured Cisneros on bass and now-retired drummer Chris Hakius, who both made up the rhythm section of Sleep in the great and late 1990s. Hakius left OM during one of their most transcendental of periods; the music made a smooth transition away from the fuzzy stoner bass lines and hypnotic drumbeats that were predominant on 2005's Variations on a Theme and 2006's Conference of the Birds, which were both elements that OM fans have come to know and love. What we have here now is something much more complex than groove and rhythm. Amos' experience with Grails' signature Eastern oriental post-rock sound has pleased the Indian scale-toting and bong-huffing Cisneros, leaving two incredibly talented musicians to see perfectly eye to eye.

This year's Advaitic Songs falls nothing short of the meaning of the word “different,” as auxiliary instruments such as sitars, tanpuras, cello, and flute are blended into the mix, sometimes superimposing over Cisneros' bass, occasionally allowing him to play parts that act as accompaniments. It is very clear that a duo is not playing this music, but that is nothing to fret about. OM welcomes frequent collaborator Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe (90 Day Men, Lichens) as a regular feature in both the studio and in live settings to make these auxiliaries come to life, as well as celloist Jackie Perez Gratz of Giant Squid and Grayceon fame, among other talented instrumentalists.

It's almost safe to say that Advaitic Songs is more of a collaborative effort between the stoner core of the duo and the many nostalgic Eastern flavors that Amos and Cisneros have striven to bring to the table all along, rather than being just a collaboration between the duo and a horde of instrumentalists. This is the sound that OM's been trying to achieve, and the inclusion of Amos and Lowe into the picture has indeed supplemented that ideal sound. Advaitic Songs will leave long-time listeners enlightened, new listeners in a delightful trance, and all listeners in a very dizzy spell, which is inevitable when you end up mixing together all of the stoner herbs and Eastern spices that both Cisneros and Amos are responsible for concocting. This is a tasty album indeed, and one I'll be often revisiting when I need a break from the usual rock band outfit.