OM returned to the Echoplex Saturday night on the fifth stop of their North American tour to promote their new album God is Good (Drag City) which will be released next week. On the ticket was Los Angeles band TWEAK BIRD who opened for TOOL recently, and LICHENS. While walking into the Echoplex I overhead an employee mention that openers TWEAK BIRD were not playing because they did not show up or even contact the venue. Whatever the facts were, it seemed to affect some fans outside who were mad, but not my Tool friend who thought they were overrated anyway.
Lichens are the solo project of Chicago composer Robert Lowe, previously the bass player for the art-rock combo 90 DAY MEN. Lowe loops wordless vocals into an alien-ambient background sound, which he then plays guitar and chants around. Watching his act is never old, as he produces some interesting facial expressions which you should check out on You Tube. Last year during LICHENS set, Om came out and seamlessly played alongside Lowe until he walked off leaving the stage to OM. This year was different as Lowe is now part of the OM live show.
With new drummer Emil Amos (GRAILS) replacing Chris Hakius, badass bassist Al Ciseneros and OM no longer can be referred to as the "other two guys from SLEEP." Opening with a song off of the new release, immediately it was apparent that Amos and Robert Lowe were going to be major additions to the OM sound. Lowe added trippy guitar sounds and effects over the heavy OM drone, while Amos brought his GRAILS-sounding percussion into the mix. The second song "To the Shrinebuilder" off a 2006 single featured the old, familiar Tibetan chanting sound and segued into the meat of the set which showcased new tunes "Cremation Ghat I and II" followed by the familiar closer "Flight of the Eagle." The encore "Bhimas's Theme" off of Pilgrimage showcased Al Cisneros' virtuosity. Cisneros plays a Rickenbacker bass which is the mandatory instrument of any bass god, and during the encore it indeed appeared the heavens were going to come crashing down through the Echoplex (or guarantee some Tinnitus for those without proper earplugs).
The addition of drummer Emil Amos and Robert Lowe was a brilliant move by Cisneros. OM now leaves behind the "Sleep" connection and moves onward to hopefully touring with GRAILS (although I don't think Emil Amos can maintain such a high level of drumming for two bands in one night-but that's what alcohol is for!).
Meditation is the Practice of Death
To the Shrinebuilder
Cremation Ghat I
Cremation Ghat II
Flight of the Eagle
Encore: Bhima's Theme