After releasing their epic Dopesmoker (Jerusalem) album, the trio of Sleep went their separate ways, leaving behind a cult following of rabid fans who were waiting for the group to pummel them with some more plodding riffage. Two-thirds of the band (Al Cisneros and Chris Hakius) went on to form the slightly-less heavy Om, and they released their debut album Variations On A Theme last year.
Conference of The Birds is the second album from the duo, and they once again make use of repeated riffs and rhythms, along with almost chanting vocals to create a long, two-song cycle of a disc that plays out like trance music for metalheads. Perhaps in a nod to their band name, the group has split the two long songs (over fifteen minutes apiece) into 44 different tracks, making it easy (or not) to skip ahead in the pieces (or, for a less smooth journey, playing them in random order).
Despite the always lurking heavy undertones, one of the groups that Om reminds me of most with Conference Of The Birds is Echoes-era Pink Floyd. The mantra-like vocals of Al Cisneros float through the psychedelic instrumental haze, and lyrically touch on just about every single mystical reference one could imagine. "At Giza" contains lines such as 'Electron sea - now set free - takes into the sky above on sentinel stream / And grant to me - a light to see - and pilgrimage to mountain of the votaric form.' So yeah, basically listening to the album and having the lyrics make any sense at all requires the burning of very heavy incense at the very least, and most listeners will probably prefer burning something else.
Considering there are just two members of the band (a rhythm section essentially), they do a good job of keeping things fairly interesting despite the largely repetitive forms of the songs themselves. The aforementioned "At Giza" chugs by at almost a ritualistic pace before finally grinding out a heavy closing section while "Flight Of The Eagle" sludges away for nearly the entire seventeen minutes while Cisneros intones lines about traversing Cheopian fields and something about how, 'mainderite candescent wills now merge with red orb of freedom.' At just over a half hour in total running length, Conference Of The Birds is a quick trip of stoner rock that doesn't offer up a whole lot new, but will be just what the doctor ordered for fans of the group.