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Os Mundi - Latin Mass CD (album) cover


Os Mundi


Eclectic Prog

3.81 | 34 ratings

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4 stars Having been brought up a good 'kafflick' boy during the 1960s I can just about remember the Latin Mass, or Tridentine Mass to give it its proper name. Since the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), and as part of an attempt to modernise, the use of Latin has been restricted and the Church has called for Mass be said in the vernacular. Funnily enough the old service is nowadays enjoying a revival, something that progressives in the modern Church actually see as a backward step.

One other irony of the Latin Mass is that the priest conducts the liturgy facing east and, back in the day, it was to the east that many young Catholics looked in their search for spiritual guidance as they deserted the Church in favour of Hinduism and Buddhism. And of course many of Os Mundi's contemporaries performed eastern-inspired music. So, what prompted this album? What drove Os Mundi to record a Latin Mass in 1970 using the rock idiom? Were they mocking the Church or were they advocating the coexistence of faith and rock?

Well my money's on the musical joke angle, with the Church as the butt of the humour, because Os Mundi raise merry hell with this raw, rag-tag work. That may at once be the album's main pro and con however, since the appeal of the Tridentine Mass, not only to traditionalist Catholics but also to atheists like Carl Jung, was its mysticism. But Os Mundi have replaced the extraordinary spiritual power of the Latin Mass with the dark explosive power of trash-psychedelia. The pace seldom slackens from the very first demonic bars of 'Ouverture', and although this track is an instrumental the Hammond organ carries with it images of bleeding statues and the fiery breath of satirical blasphemy rather than the call for spiritual growth.

It's as if the bonds of Catholic convention have been blasted and torn asunder by an icy Teutonic wind, a wind that has also resulted in a 180-degree turnaround by moving from an intensely Christian to a dynamic pagan ethic. The wild fervour of the 'Kyrie' mantra together with the excitable tribal drums and rabble of voices on the 'Gloria' have an organic unity that is both primitive and earthbound. And the two-part 'Credo' is like a descent into the bowels of Hell on the wings of Death, the return journey propelled by the glorious golden sunburst of a billion candlelights.

The 'Sanctus' precedes the consecration of the Host, the most solemn part of the liturgy where the priest is believed to perform the miracle of transubstantiation and Os Mundi represent this with the free association of a flute freakout. The album then draws to a rather non-dramatic conclusion as the 'Agnus Dei' just melts away quickly and meaninglessly.

Four-and-a-half centuries after Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the Castle Church wall at Wittenberg the Catholic Church recognised the importance of active participation by the congregation through the use of local languages, and it took until more recently for the Catholic laity to finally be allowed to receive the Eucharist, Hussite-fashion, in both kinds. This album isn't without its drawbacks either, in particular the shabby production, but while it may not do anything for the faith it's sure to gain more than a few converts for Os Mundi.

seventhsojourn | 4/5 |


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