Earth – Primitive and Deadly

                Earth moves tectonically. For years the Earth lay dormant waiting for the right spark. An entire nine years passed the lethargic band by. Upon its awakening on “Hex; Or Printing in the Infernal Method” Dylan Carlson and the group had moved forward. Much cleaner, harmonic, the thing was infused with all the threat and violence of before, yet it felt closer. Since that turn Earth has been moving towards human territory, away from the early cosmic drone that defined its earlier work. 

                Honestly I have enjoyed the shift. While I think “Earth 2: Special Low Frequency Version” is an absolutely great thing to surrender to, it can’t really be an end-all, be-all. The album is not a repeatable act nor should it. Earth did what it wanted in 1993 and to ask it to do the same thing for an entire decade can certainly be exhausting. Fortunately Earth decided to move towards a grandiose bard sound, which feels warmer and less lonely. 

                Vocals are finally returning to Earth after a nearly two decade hiatus. The trudge is still there since Earth has all the time in the world. “From the Zodiacal Light” shows off a little bit of what the new Earth incarnation sounds like with additional human elements. Maybe Earth had been working towards this all long: starting out with the isolation threat-infused fuzz to move towards an ever greater epic emotional sound. 

                “Primitive and Deadly” hopefully shall continue the tradition of latter-day Earth in the finest fashion possible.

Dudes – Sloth Eyes EP 7.7
This is the first Dudes release in the burgeoning genre of ‘slothcore’. Music can be so fast. When it is slowed down to the pace of molasses it can get unusually good. This is wonderful. Slowcore has nothing on the slowness of what is going on in these six tracks. Here everything is so microscopic in development that it is heartfelt. 
                ‘xenarthran’ is reminiscent of Earth at their most-country and most-gone. Here it lingers. Occasionally the guitar player remembers to hit a string every now and then. The space and time spent is worth it though, particularly towards the end where the tension becomes something dramatic. ‘cecropia’ follows where ‘xenarthran’ left off with a bit more in terms of sadness. A few moments of the song almost verge on tears. Tone more than melody takes over creating an emotional connection despite the slow pace. ‘let me count your vertebrae’ ends the EP on near-NAP status, with the sheer level of slowness and repetition borrowing themselves into the brain. 
                Calm doesn’t even begin to describe what is happening. Does this sound like it was recorded in a basement two decades ago, left there, and only discovered a couple minutes ago and re-mastered like garbage? Yes it does and that is its biggest selling point. ‘Sloth Eyes’ proves that fast and fidelity are glimmering sheens without meaning. With the time spent, the melodies stumbled upon, and the atmosphere of the recording it is touching the way grimy cassette culture is touching. It reaches the innermost part of the soul and says ‘hi’.

Dudes – Sloth Eyes EP 7.7

This is the first Dudes release in the burgeoning genre of ‘slothcore’. Music can be so fast. When it is slowed down to the pace of molasses it can get unusually good. This is wonderful. Slowcore has nothing on the slowness of what is going on in these six tracks. Here everything is so microscopic in development that it is heartfelt. 

                ‘xenarthran’ is reminiscent of Earth at their most-country and most-gone. Here it lingers. Occasionally the guitar player remembers to hit a string every now and then. The space and time spent is worth it though, particularly towards the end where the tension becomes something dramatic. ‘cecropia’ follows where ‘xenarthran’ left off with a bit more in terms of sadness. A few moments of the song almost verge on tears. Tone more than melody takes over creating an emotional connection despite the slow pace. ‘let me count your vertebrae’ ends the EP on near-NAP status, with the sheer level of slowness and repetition borrowing themselves into the brain. 

                Calm doesn’t even begin to describe what is happening. Does this sound like it was recorded in a basement two decades ago, left there, and only discovered a couple minutes ago and re-mastered like garbage? Yes it does and that is its biggest selling point. ‘Sloth Eyes’ proves that fast and fidelity are glimmering sheens without meaning. With the time spent, the melodies stumbled upon, and the atmosphere of the recording it is touching the way grimy cassette culture is touching. It reaches the innermost part of the soul and says ‘hi’.

Earth – Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light 1 8.3

        Though I’ve written about Earth’s music before (here) I failed to capture his more recent period. Starting with “Hex, Or Printing in the Infernal Method” the project has taken a new approach. Rather than focus exclusively on the hopeless decay of walls of hiss and feedback, the new period is marked by a more optimistic vibe. I’m not implying Earth has gotten poppy or happy, but it gets pretty difficult to outdo him in bleakness.

                As I started this album, I immediately felt certain classical bits I hadn’t noticed before. Perhaps that’s due to a cellist this time around (Lori Goldston, former Nirvana cellist) but I feel Dylan’s grow more willing to let this side show. Of course, he’s always referenced La Monte Young’s work as an influence, but you feel it here with the swirls of sound.

                Lumbering through at their trademark molasses pace, I noticed how they at times evoke a heavier version of Dirty Three. Those dramatic tempos, the grandiose heavy guitars, all conjure up images of heading through a near endless space. Plus, the sound is considerably heavier than their most recent 2008 effort “The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull”. 

                Oddly, it feels like the most hopeful music I’ve heard from them. I get the image of walking through a cold winter with the sun shining brightly, going up a hill. Where I get such an image is from the crystal clearness of each track, whether it be the emotive tones of “Descent to the Zenith” or the pitch-perfect closer “Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light 1” They’ve cast off whatever pretenses of metal they had. Now they’ve fully embraced the “Spaghetti Western” style they’d been flirting with for so long. 

                If you’re approaching this as a doom metal album, you’ll be disappointed. Rather, a better way to think of this would be a classical/drone album. As a bonus, there’s going to be a part II of this released sometime later this year.