The Scala, London
30 September 2012
Tonight is all about the HEAVY. Not so much the Metal, though its ghost and spiritual guidance flow out of everything [post=om-advaitic-songs text=”Om”] do like ectoplasm, but definitely the HEAVY. In capitals. Always in capitals. On paper, given a reductive genre-based taxonomical description of each act, King Midas Sound, Kevin Martin‘s ultra-deep “dub” project, seem a weird choice to support Al Cisneros‘ ultra-deep “doom metal” band (well, apart from the bit where I described them both as “ultra-deep”, but that’s kind of key) until you realise that, like a particularly unbalanced game of Team Fortress 2, it’s ALL ABOUT THE HEAVY. Then it becomes clear that there are very obvious parallels.King Midas sound take the stage, beginning with Martin himself whipping up a full-on sonic onslaught that’s almost Swans-like in its relentlessness, the vast spaces of their recorded work quickly becoming filled to capacity with brutalising sheet metal trebles and punishing bass. As first Kiki Hitomi and then Roger Robinson join him, this transforms into an awesomely subterranean groove monster, all echo-chamber swirls and voices spiralling in hurricanes. Like that. And the bass? Tremendous. This is dance music, but it’s not music you move to. It’s music that pushes you around. If King Midas Sound played the size of venue they truly deserve, the amount of bass required would probably split the planet in two. A dog would hear an a capella band, so deep is the bass here. Imagine if SunnO))) decided to get funky. Only possibly without the robes, I don’t know.
The set ends as it began, with Martin alone onstage conjuring an all-consuming vortex – it’s hard to escape the impression that Kiki, Roger, and the music itself have all been dreamed into being by the sheer force of sound. The survivors are left stunned and shell-shocked, but most of all happy.And how do you follow that? You follow that with Om, obviously. Although that gives rise to some interesting topological paradoxes, given that I said they’re travelling parallel to each other. I dunno, you figure it out. You want me to do EVERYTHING for you? Because, of course, parallel lines meet. They meet in Infinity, and the Infinite is what Om are all about, in the form of HEAVINESS. Cisneros seems to be in a trance for most of the set (which isn’t uncommon among musicians, but this comes across as being more spiritual than narcotic), pouring out devotional mantras of bass that loop and curl hypnotically, every now and then chanting lyrics into the mike like a weird hybrid avatar of Ozzy Osbourne and Robert Calvert. Om have chosen a pretty unique path to follow out of the metal ghetto, and they’ve gone so far down it it’s sometimes hard to remember where they came from. This is a call to prayer, an actual prayer, and the voice of God answering that prayer all at once. When we do get metal riffing it’s so seamless, so carved from the same block as the almost-ambient-if-it-wasn’t-so-intense bass cycles that it’s as if the music itself has started speaking in tongues.
And if that’s all getting a bit metaphysical, let’s remind ourselves that Om are, below and beyond everything else, HEAVY.
Infinity, then. Where parallel lines meet, and decide to put on a fantastically intense gig. Transcendent.
-Pope Deuteronemu 90210th-