Transmissions From Sinai


"For a while there was a lot of talk around Arthur HQ about the idea of 'life metal'--as opposed to death metal--and how that applied to a lot of the bands we were listening to. These were artists making introspective, expansive metal that stood out as flashes of color in the unified spectrum of blackness that dominates the genre. Think about the sunshine Sabbath jams of Wino's various incarnations, the core-cleansing live rituals of Sunn O))) and most of all, the contemplative rhythms of Om. Om rose from the ashes of long-form drone-metal icons Sleep, and has since produced three albums of thoughtful, minimalist metal composed entirely of bass, drums and vocals. Transmissions From Sinai, the compilation curated by Om's bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros plays like a companion piece to those albums; the band's influences and fellow wanderers united by a deep narrative thread of rhythm, resistance and meditation. Transmissionsopens with Lichens' 'Kopernik Trip Note,' eight minutes of vocal tones flowing like liquid mercury through a haze of keyboard drones. The focus on rhythm is clarified with Linval Thompson's 'Wicked Babylon,' a rocksteady classic from the guy that, in addition to producing endlessly satisfying reggae albums of his own, was also responsible with lacing dub legend Scientist with some of his best rhythms. Grouper's 'Everyone In Turn' is a cascade of vocal melodies underscored by a fog-shrouded piano. The cryptical envelopment continues with Current 93, David Tibet's long-running Gnostic-apocalypse folk project, and is reinforced by acoustic work from former Neurosis guitarist Scott Kelly, the brushed marching drums of Quix*o*tic's 'The Breeze' and Hush Arbor's mournful guitar dirge, 'The Valley.' Om tour-mate Mia Doi Todd marks the midpoint of the journey with the romantic bongo jam 'Night Of A Thousand Kisses,' followed closely by Six Organs of Admittance's shimmering 'Bar Nasha,' one of several previously unreleased songs in this collection. This flows into the narcotic beats of another Om collaborator, Emil Amos in his Holy Sons guise. A counterpoint follows with Pantaleimon's gentle folk, all crisp guitar melodies and cool, clear whispered vocals. From there it's a downhill run through the blissed-out sunshine psychedelia of Grails' 'Acid Rain,' the intricate contortions of Sir Richard Bishop's finger-picked raga 'Almeria,' and a twin blast from two legendary guitar lifers: J. Mascis, performing the previously unreleased 'War' and Wino with a churning anthem of hope, 'Silver Lining.' Transmissions concludes with 'David and Goliath,' a melodica-and-keyboard-drenched fable of resistance and survival from contemporary British reggae outfit Alpha & Omega. Transmissions From Sinaiis a countercultural signpost: a diverse collection of music--from searing life metal through gauzy ambient piano ballads to the heaviest of dub -- that serves as a soothing balm for whatever may ail you in these troubled times."