The word Earth is an evocative term, summoning up all manner of imagery; So what do you feel, recall and imagine when the word is uttered? Mounds and clumps of dirt squelching and smushing beneath your feet as you trudge through an Autumnal field. Or the 3rd rock from the sun, a spinning globe of elements suspended in the Milky Way galaxy, containing just the right recipe to form us and our fellow life forms. How about a musical variation on the term Earth? Earth, Wind & Fire, the funktastic 70s group? Or ‘Earth Song’, the bombastic whining sprawl of a pop song from Jacko at his most wacko? Scrap all of that, because this is all about a certain doom droning, band spawning, jazz tinged, experimental foursome known simply, and irrevocably, as Earth.
Formed as a group who combine doom with gloom and craft something with a slow, steady fire burning in the pit of their sonic stomachs, they have progressed throughout their 20 year career into a band intent on wandering through the wastelands of sound, taking snippets of this and cuttings of that to piece together an epic tapestry that sprawls itself out leisurely and lovingly. Riffs were aplenty in the last offering from the gang of motley music makers, back in 2008, but the avant garde mindset has taken hold somewhat on their new record ‘Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I’ (indicating that this is the first part of something rather expansive), the title of which recalls all the dooming, glooming razzmatazz you ever expected from the investigational stalwarts.
The success of a record such as this depends entirely on the tastes and open mind of the listener, so mired in unconventionality and an array of archaic styles that melt together. It is most certainly not something to suddenly pick up and blast through a single or two, in four minute nuggets of accessibility. Instead, this is a prolonged exposure to an ideology to dissolve into, allowing the entire piece to envelop you rather than bluntly dancing away the embers in a short, sharp blare of noise and guitar. The opening crashing caterwaul of ‘Old Black’, dropping into ominous electric guitar offerings, sets the tone for the thunderous reverberation to come, culminating in a twenty minute mellow drift through the title track to wind down a record that shuffles from uneasy listening to dreamgazing via a glut of effects and genre trials.
Earth and its members (especially frontman Dylan Carlson) have led a fraught existence so far, stepping in and out of drug disasters, involving themselves intricately in the life of Kurt Cobain and ebbing and flowing in and out of musical existence ever since 1989, leaving behind a range of EPs and albums that showcase the tenacious talent on offer when the group put their minds (and instruments) together. ‘Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I’ is a beautiful bit of brave music making in the current climate, oozing with a sensuality that borders on the dreamworld, but the lengthy timeframe and experimental avenues sometimes become a little too much for a pair of little ears to take. This is a record for those with time. Time to sit, listen, soak it in and accept that, sometimes, music needn’t be logical.
Words : Adam Parker