|Conference of the Birds|
|Studio album by Om|
|Released||February 24 2006|
|Recorded||10 - 12 October 2005 at Prairie Sun in Cotati, California|
|Genre||Stoner metal, doom metal|
|Label||Holy Mountain Records|
|Producer||Billy Anderson, Om|
| Variations on a Theme |
| Conference of the Birds |
| Inerrant Rays of Infallible Sun (Blackship Shrinebuilder) |
Conference of the Birds is the second studio album by Om, released in 2006 via Holy Mountain Records. Featuring only two songs and a shorter length compared to the band's debut it has been often perceived as one of if not their best album, with both songs being regular inclusions in the band's live performances for years.
The album's name itself references a celebrated literary masterpiece of Persian literature by poet Farid ud-Din Attar, commonly known as Attar of Nishapur. The title, which is in Arabic, is taken directly from the Qur’an, 27:16, where Sulayman (Solomon) and Dāwūd (David) are said to have been taught the language, or speech, of the birds (manṭiq al-ṭayr).
Following the release of the band's debut album Variations on a Theme, OM began playing a handful of shows in support of the album. By March a new song had worked into the setlist known as "Flight of The Eagle". Eventually on 9 October the trio of Cisneros, Hakius and Billy Anderson went to Prairie Sun Studios in Cotati, California to scope out the space and begin work on their second album.
In a studio report provided by Roadburn, Al Cisneros details the entirety of the recording sessions behind Conference of The Birds:
|“|| “We arrived in Cotati with our gear the night of October 9th 2005 -a day before we were to actually begin tracking. Spent the first couple of hours acclimating to the surroundings and scoping out the layout of the rooms; Billy began to inspect the recording equipment, get things in phase, and plot which microphones would work best for their coming tasks.
Much pre-production had already taken place, with Anderson coming to our rehearsals in San Francisco and hearing /digesting / ruminating over the material we were going to track. It was during this pre-production that we worked out plans on the sonic approaches necessary to attain the album we were envisioning.
Hakius and I we're dying to begin making sounds that night, but there was still a band in studio B finishing their work. We sat out on the tailgate of Chris' truck and sang the songs under the moon. Hakius hit his knees for drums and I hummed the bass lines. We couldn't wait for the next day to arrive; from sheer anticipation it was going to be near impossible to get a full night's sleep.
Prairie Sun is sectioned into three studios: B is the main tracking room, C is the room for overdubs and vocals, and A is the most incredible mixing suite we'd ever seen. Walking around the rooms and feeling the place out, we noted the place had an atmosphere which would be conducive to what we were there to do. Elements were aligning themselves and all three of us, Chris, Billy and I felt the positive omen.
The first half day of session was spent warming up and testing various set ups. My bass set up had to be moved from overheads picking up the bleed. Got things perfectly placed on the second try. We took a break after we had tones... ate some food, drank some coffee and got ready to just see what would happen. Tape rolled that night... the tones were far better than those off Variations. We jammed for the rest of that night, getting loose as Billy dialed things in. There was a good energy visiting the three of us.
Woke up, coffee was consumed and we went up to studio B. Our assistant engineer Kevin Lemon showed up today. Everyone involved was totally working well together. We were already feeling it... that something was going to go to tape. That day was spent tracking At Giza. By 3 in the morning we had the basics recorded for the a-side. Spirits were very high.
Next day was Flight of the Eagle. We knew we had "the take". I started singing out in the open when ever we'd hear a playback. We could all sense the album beginning to manifest. The pieces were locking together. We were so charged. Third, Bedouin's Vigil, a four minute song which was to be an extra for the split 7' we were planning with Six organs of Admittance.
It was now time to move studios -down the hill to C - so we could begin the next day overdubbing and doing vocals. Got down to C with all the gear. Dialed in the bass tone I was after for overdubbing in key spots. It was 5am, and as soon as we had the tone I lied down next to my amp and passed out. They woke me at 12:30 the next day and told me I wouldn't wake up when they tried to get me out of there the previous night, so they just locked me in the studio. I would never had known. We felt relieved the session was going so well, and that all that was ahead were vocals, some bass work, and then mix.
Began tracking vocals and bass overdubs -going back and forth between the two. Chris pulled out the vaporizer. The album was being born little by little. We completed vocals on Flight of the Eagle and did a listening. Next day Giza. Completed all vocals and did a mock up mix. We were ecstatic. Chris lied down in front of the monitors and melted into the floor. He couldn't stop laughing. Finished up around 6 in the morning.
The time had arrived to take it all to studio A and begin mixing. There were some technical issues with some of the outboard gear which the studio had promised would be in perfect working order. We lost some time as the interns chased cords and hunted down the problem. Went down to the town and ate some food. We returned and by around 9pm Billy was mixing. He and Kevin worked their alchemy and got into the flow-zone. We listened and adjusted levels, listened and adjusted ad infinitum.
The album came to being over the next 72 hours. Drove into SF by 8 am after mixing all night. Hand delivered the album to John at Holy Mountain."
— Al Cisneros, Roadburn 
The band also notably recorded "Bedouin's Vigil" in the same sessions, later released via Holy Mountain as a split with Six Organs of Admittance and as a Japanese bonus track to the Leaf Hound Records edition of the album. Conference of The Birds would ultimately be released on 24 February with the vinyl edition being released on 17 April. The band followed with a string of appearances at SXSW, Le Lieu Unique in Nantes, France, two-day jaunts in New York and Canada before closing out the year with a performance at Slim's in San Fransisco on 1 December 2006.
Reviews surrounding the release of Conference at the time were relatively positive. Pitchfork Media (giving a 7.3/10) praised "At Giza" and it's "corked, opiate energy". Scene Point Blank (Giving a 9.3/10) praised the mini-epics as described and stated that they "never expected there to be an album this hypnotic and uplifting at the same time.". Dusted Reviews gives a fairly positive outlook on the album and observes the references to Hinduism, Sufi and Egyptian religious motifs. Tiny Mix Tapes also gave a 4/5 score with the opening description "Conference of the Birds is a pristine bomb bursting in one evenly paced, fifteen-minute explosion with an equally long aftershock that blazes, razes, and settles in a cloud of ash."
Retroactively the album has been further praised. In a 2010 review via Head Heritage the album is praised for the mantra-like calm and it's hypnotic nature. In a tenth anniversary observation, Doodlehound (Giving a "highest possible recommendation" nod) details the album's sound and closes with the following statements of "Time has only been kinder as it still holds up as a perfect dose of trance-like heaviness with the perfect length." and "No doubt it's my favorite OM album and possibly even one of my favorite albums of all time."
All songs written by Cisneros/Hakius.
- 1. At Giza (15:55)
- 2. Flight of The Eagle (17:27)
- Al Cisneros - Bass, Vocals
- Chris Hakius - Drums
- Billy Anderson - Engineering, Producer
- Kevin Lemon - Additional Engineering
- Beatrice Friedli - Photography (Cover photography)
- Tina Gordon - Photography (Sleeve photography)
- Earl Kuck, That's Who - Artwork (Art construction)
- ↑ / Roadburn.com via Wayback Machine Studio Report: OM, accessed 24th January 2019
- ↑ Pitchfork Media
- ↑ Scene Point Blank
- ↑ Dusted Magazine
- ↑ Tiny Mix Tapes
- ↑ Head Heritage
- ↑ Amplifier Wordsmith
- ↑ / Doodlehound
|Current Members||Al Cisneros • Emil Amos • Tyler Trotter|
|Past Members||Chris Hakius • Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe|
|Studio Albums||Variations on a Theme • Conference of the Birds • Pilgrimage • God Is Good • Advaitic Songs|
|Splits||Inerrant Rays of Infallible Sun (Blackship Shrinebuilder) • Om / Six Organs of Admittance|
|Singles||Gebel Barkal • Addis Dubplate • Gethsemane Dubplate|
|Live Albums||Live at Jerusalem • Live Conference • Live • BBC Radio 1|
|Associated Bands and Artists||Sleep • The Sabians • Shrinebuilder • Grails • Phantom Family Halo • Holy Mountain Records • Billy Anderson • David V. D'andrea|