John Coltrane – Om


Mad & mettlesome master-class here. WHAT an album! It starts with a group recitation/orison/tenson, & sounds like it’s coming from unhinged/intoxicated monks/magus/inyanga accompanied by thumb-pianos & bells/chimes. After a noisy ignition/heraldry phase the song starts to form “solid structure” which is grounded in fairly straight-forward mid-tempo swing as an anchor for mystic theurgy. The whole things is very shamanic & arcane. A ceremony of sorcery & incantation, it feels almost occult (perhaps it is?). I think this is positive music but certainly something tenebrous & dark lurks within. the Coltrane traditionalists must hate this album, not just for it’s utter atonality but it’s dark ritualistic depictions. The theme of possession is exceedingly prevalent here. Coltrane’s colossal soloing spree which gets progressively less & less coherent/lucid & more & more cacophonic as the session elapses screams calenture & almost of a man/being that’s “seen too much” or no longer communicates on the “lower levels” or language based enchorial forms. OUT OF IT!!! As well as this unidentified menace is an irrationality, the enormously emotional fuming stridency scraped out of the sax’s aperture is of a being well beyond the threshold of reason or control (I think the REALLY nosy/harsh stuff on this album is courtesy of Sanders?!). Yeh, I bet the traditionalists & church-goers are shitting themselves in mass group encopresis at this! it must be horrifying for them to hear Coltrane deface, distort, distend <you decide> with such strength, intention & vociferation. Insanity, at it’s most beautiful, is all over this recording, it’s not just the sonics but the emotion that’s projected. coming back to the state of discordance & the nature of these beastly, trawled, stretched & rictus exceedingly exigent pressurized sounds, bending contorting monstrous misshapen melange. I just love this stuff, Roscoe Mitchell is another major master of forcing the oddest textures & malformed manifestations out of his reed. Those long, obscenely deformed sounds raking the universe, almost like hearing the impossible. Coltrane employs many methods & techniques, there’s nothing linear about his trajectory & expression here, and throughout the recording his morphology of sound/approach/ stream vary in volleys of vicissitudes with excellent support from Sanders & Garret. This is extreme & unsettling stuff in the umbra of something numinous (but I reiterate, I don’t think it’s negative or sinister, it’s more nuanced than that) & is a massive hybridization of ultra Avant-Garde oddity, traditional Jazz (McCoy Tyner & Elvin Jones are generally the most “reasonable” participants here with the clearest “Jazz” pedigree on display), archaic ethnic ritualism <African & Asian>, & hyper sensationalized profound improvisational extremity & noise. It’s without doubt, the best I have heard from Coltrane so far (about my 11th Coltrane CD), & one of the best CD’s I have acquired for some time full-stop. I’m hoping there is much more of this style/stuff of his available, but this mode seems to be his least popular/successful. Really quite incredible!

Label – Impulse!

Rekd – 1965