Review Summary: A Meditative voyage exploring the realms of not only the music at hand, but a personal odyssey where the musicians discover their full potential, and then go even further.
There is a sublime quality within this album, a spiritual transcendence. In fact the name, "Om", is the sacred syllable in Hindu religion, which symbolizes the infinite or the entire Universe. Coltrane described Om as the "first syllable, the primal word, the word of power". The composition also contain spoken chants from the Bhagavad-Gita. There is indeed a cathartical yearning within this album that reflect John Coltrane's own interest in spirituality. The first sections of the album displays an avant-garde orchestration, there is no unity within the instruments, releasing dense layers of polyrhythms that create an anarchical atmosphere. But as the first section approaches it's climax, a piano section slowly begins to dominate, and the other instruments begin to revolve around it's lead. Due to the spiritual presence within this album, it's orchestration could be a representation of human nature in regards to religion. The piano may perhaps symbolize religion, and how when one recognizes it's presence, it brings order, a purpose within one's life.
As we enter the second part of the album, the piano section slowly loses control and the other instruments begin to follow their own path. The anarchical presence now returns, and a barrage of sounds reign over the music. There are eruption of solos from John Coltrane, but the music doesn't synchronize with the other instruments, it's just chaos. I suppose this loss of order could represent how often human beings contravene religious doctrine, by falling to temptation or other factors. The final spoken verse, speaks about divine spiritual cleansing, perhaps expressing that sins can always be forgiven by divinity. Though Om
makes references to Hinduism, John Coltrane never truly associated himself with any particular religion, experimenting with numerous religious doctrines and even philosophical teachings of Plato and Aristotle. This album is merely a reference to the yearning for that sensation of ecstasy felt during spiritual cleansing. That thirst to be pure, to be innocent, and at peace with the world around us.
This was one of John Coltrane's final albums and it displays some of his most experimental work yet. It's orchestrated in an avant-garde fashion, unconventional in structure. This isn't just some mere recording session, this is a journey to see just how far these musicians can go, and we have a front row seat to witness it all. The musicians follow their own philosophy- Ignoring all the laws of music, and simply playing their instruments to harness the mystical language of music itself. It's all about how far they can go, what new realms could be explored musically by pushing themselves, and their instruments, to the final limit.