30 Day Song Challenge, Day 19

Day 19 – A Song From Your Favorite Album

There are many ways to go with this one, but… Oh who am I kidding, there’s only one way to go: to pick a song which is my favourite album.

Note: this song starts with over a minute of near silence, and the grooveshark widget doesn’t show the time nor does it allow you to skip through a track. I realise it’s not fair to expect you to dedicate a half-hour of listening time to a piece of music you likely will not enjoy, but if you’re going to listen to it at all, I suggest you press play and read on, slowly, to at least get some early flavour by the end of this post.

In 2001, Old Man Gloom released two albums, Seminar II: The Holy Rites of Primitivsm Regressionism, and Seminar III: Zozobra. They are both great records, as are their other two releases, but here and now we’re interested in Seminar III, their third release.

Seminar III contains, and in fact entirely consists of the song Zozobra, a twenty-seven minute plus sonic journey which pulses and breathes throughout its length in possibly the single most enjoyable self-contained pieces of music I have ever encountered. There are riffs aplenty, and layer upon layer of snarling guitar chugging, soaring feedback, multi-part screaming vocals, bludgeoning bass, hypnotic drones and lulling hums, dialogue samples, and pounding muscular drums. There are several distinct phases which make up the rack, but each is connected and intertwined into a singular whole. This is not a medley.

What’s odd about this is that most OMG tracks are pretty short. This album is in fact almost as long as their first album, containing 14 tracks. For comparison, here’s a more typical OMG track, from Seminar II, released that same year:

Old Man Gloom fascinate me in just about every way imaginable. Conceptually, they deal with ideas of primitivism and repetition, evolution, de-evolution, naturalism, anti-humanism. This is reflected lyrically, musically and visually. Of course, they basically exist within some form of post-hardcore/sludge/post-metal kind of world, with elements of noise and dark ambient. They have a really nice crunchy guitar/bass tone, and the way their vocals are layer together to make some super-primitive human-ape yell is really swell if you ask me. Plus, their full title is The O.M.G. Institute for the Advancement of Alien Simian Technology and Human De-Evolution Studies. I mean come on. What’s not to like about Gary Oldman’s Gloom?

Old Man Gloom, aka, Zozobra, is a character burned in a festival in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which is where the band are from. But to answer their question: Yes

Zozobra has a few standout moments. I like the section that stars 0 minutes in, and ends about 27 minutes later. It’s true. But to be more specific, there’s the section beginning 9 minutes 30 seconds in, where the riff is in 3/4 for one bar then 4/4 for seven bars, repeating. Also, real sweet dissonance in this section. There’s the slow sustained one chord riff breakdown 13 minutes in with feedback. There’s the final climactic section kicked off when a woman’s voice says “Or he’ll die in the attempt,” with its super-cathartic ever-resolving riff and incredible guitar solo. As a matter of fact like I said at the start of this paragraph, it’s all good.

So maybe they’re not something you’ll enjoy. Maybe you will be unable to get past the more extreme elements at work here. But if you do, maybe, just maybe you’ll understand why this album is one of my favourite albums, and why this album’s one and only song happens to be my favourite song from this album containing only one song where this is that one song… BREATHE DEEP.

Resume the Gloom 2011.

3 thoughts on “30 Day Song Challenge, Day 19

  1. Just ok? Well, one listen, to a genre I don’t expect you have much frame of reference in, fair enough. A lot to take in when you’re coming from square zero.

    I just can’t get over the whole soundtrack to the end of the universe (but somehow happening in a desert) vibe.


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