Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Old Man Gloom
Seminar II: The Holy Rites of Primitivism Regressionism


Released 2001 on Tortuga Recordings
Reviewed by kwd, 30/01/2006ce


The gloriously-named Old Man Gloom - aka the OMG Institute for the Advancement of Alien Simian Technology and Human De-evolution Studies (what???) – might have a warped fascination with the primate psyche but, when it comes to colossal riffs, strung-out feedback and power ambient soundscapes, they definitely ain’t monkeying around. No seminar I ever attended launched itself with pounding metallic hardcore and a prolonged feedback squall, yet that’s exactly the greeting offered by Seminar II. At full ampage, it’s a truly seismic experience…

…but just who the devil are these Gloom fellas?

More a collective alter ego than a full-time band, the good ship OMG swoops down every now and again to abduct musicians from Isis, Converge, Cave In and Agoraphobic Nosebleed, holing them up in a secret lab until they deliver the goodies. And when they do, it sounds EXACTLY like the sum of its parts, which is a Very Good Thing. If those names mean nothing, perhaps this will help:

monolithic post-metal (Isis) + visionary hardcore (Converge) + epic space prog sensibilities (Cave In) + brutal grind nous (the Nosebleed) + idiosyncratic tendencies = OMG

Originally formed by Aaron Turner - Isis mainman, Hydrahead Records boss, record sleeve designer, all-round fingerer of musical pies - and drummer Santos Montano, OMG released their debut mini-album ‘Meditations in B’ in 1999. However, it was the simultaneously-released CDs of 2001, Seminar II and Seminar III, where they really got their (ape)shit together and went multi-dimensional.

Showcasing the fragmented side of the OMG is Seminar II, a 60 minute, 17-track headfuck that explores every schizo refraction within the Gloom spectrum. Ominous atmos and feedback-drenched battery dominate the first two tracks before 'Branch Breaker' - a 50-second fist of fury topped with lashings of I-scream – drops the first of those gargantuan killer riffs. Then it’s into the ambient hiss/drone otherworld of 'Radio Crackles Spill Down My Face', and that kind of random sequencing pretty much sets the pattern (or lack of) for the rest of the disc. Brutal blasts and brooding, molten menace are punctuated by interludes of drones, hisses, feedback and voices, all of which add a sci-fi B-movie undercurrent to the main primordial gush.

Almost all the tracks are short, densely-packed teasers that have you gagging for a bigger bite of the chimp cherry (that’ll be the gi-bloody-normous Seminar III – see other review), but there are a couple of exceptions.

At Seminar II’s broken heart is the aching, sliding lament of 'Clenched Tight in the Fist of God', an instrumental ode to quiet desolation and desert-dust highways that’s nothing less than immense. Similarly huge, though noisily so, is the two-pronged finale of 'Three Ring Ocean Sideshow' and 'Man Died (Self: Reborn)'. Feeding off Jimmy Page’s most sinister live violin-bow excursions, it brings together all the Gloom trademarks into one apocalyptic mantra which is then slowly drowned out by a surging tide of feedback.

And yet, magnificent though it is, the story ain't even finished - Seminar III: Zozobra awaits your attendance.

To be continued...


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