Archive for the ‘Earth’ Category

Noiseweek: KEN mode, Old Baby, Earth and EMA

Sunday, May 24th, 2015

The sights, sounds and words of the week in noise.


Fuck The Police: A Musical Sentiment From NWA To Ferguson | The Quietus

““This is non-violent protest music”. So said Ice Cube recently in an interview announcing a forthcoming biopic of his former group N.W.A. His claim is rather timely. “Fuck the Police”, the musical refrain popularised 1988 by “the world’s most dangerous group”, is having something of a moment. Occasioned by collective anger at American law enforcement’s proclivity for murdering Black men at the rate of once every 28 hours, the song — or rather, songs — deserve inquiry.
Dismissal of Ice Cube’s claim is likely. N.W.A. are better known for lyrics depicting misogyny, homophobia and violence without which many of their songs would be, if not altogether silent, at least palpably shorter. There’s also a tendency to reduce ‘Fuck The Police’ to cliché progressivist demands for free speech, as both Ice Cube and the schlocky narrative of the N.W.A. film imply (imagine Ice Cube as the Jim Morrison/Val Kilmer character).
But as jaunty parody backed by James Brown’s ubiquitous ‘Funky Drummer’ break, N.W.A.’s ‘Fuck The Police’ registered a changing lived reality for a substantial portion of America at the hands of a brutal form of policing and the prison industry it feeds. In doing so, it laid out a set of affects that would echo across the better part of nearly three decades of hip-hop.”

Ian Curtis: 35 Years To The Day Of His Death, Why The Enigmatic Joy Division Frontman Remains British Indie’s Greatest Unknown Pleasure | NME

“He was certainly adept at living a double life, and not just from Deborah, who he was unfaithful to for long periods of time with Belgian journalist Annik Honore. With the benefit of hindsight, we can see Ian’s inner turmoil exert itself through his lyrics and manic performances, but away from the stage, his welling melancholy was well-hidden from the bandmates he didn’t want to alarm or disappoint. Even as he was planning to kill himself, he convincingly feigned enthusiasm for Joy Division’s upcoming American tour, so much so that drummer Stephen Morris has admitted that, “Looking back, I wish I’d helped him more. I think that all the time… But we were having such a good time, and you’re very selfish when you’re young. Epilepsy wasn’t understood then. People would just say, ‘He’s a bit of a loony — he has fits.’”

Young Hearts, Run Free: On Camp & Australia’s Eurovision Entry | The Quietus

“If Susan Sontag asserts that camp is “its love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration”, then this year’s Eurovision entry might do some good. It’s almost an oxymoron, but Australia just needs to chill. We get it, we’re the romantic, rugged country with a masculine veneer, but please, just for three minutes, can we not be weirded out by the inherently excessive, camp spectacle that is Eurovision?”


KEN mode — Management Control

KEN mode are at a fascinating turning point in their career. Everything about the Steve Albini-produced Success sounds like the band at their most fresh, raw and vital. The marked shift in aesthetic — from metallic hardcore to Shellac-influenced, straight-up noise rock — has probably raised a few eyebrows, and on Facebook, the Winnipeg trio sound almost desperate that their ambitious reinvention pays off. If the four tracks released so far are any indication, Success should pay off — whereas “Blessed” and “These Tight Jeans” flirted with self-indulgence, “Management Control” and album closer “Dead Actors” represent the band at their most deliberate, channeling the Albini influence through a measured brand of fury that few can replicate. Success is out through Seasons of Mist and June 16 and is available for pre-order on Bandcamp.

Old Baby — New Music

With little fanfare and not even a proper title, Old Baby have released one of my favourite records of the year. The Louisville, Kentucky, outfit — which boasts members of Slint, Young Widows, alongside many of that city’s unsung heroes — have traded in the doomy flirtations of their 2013 debut, Love Hangover for a diverse, psych-tinged desert blues odyssey. There are some odd turns — the quintet sink into an effortless funk groove on “Necessary” before returning to uncomfortable meditations on “Visions” and “Comedown.” And there’s a beautifully off-kilter vibe that permeates throughout the entire record, from the tripped-out, Egyptian-influenced geometry of the cover art to the sinister melodies in the backgrounds of each song and the deadpan invocations of vocalists Jonathan Glen Wood and Evan Patterson. This is music for road trips to parts unknown.


Earth Live from the Islington Assembly Hall in London

Watch a professionally-shot set from the drone trio’s latest British outing.

Under the Influence: Krautrock

Part three of Noisey’s music documentary series looks into the context and history of krautrock, featuring interviews with members of Can, Neu! and modern-standard bearers in every genre of contemporary music.

EMA on Coastal Frequencies

Live and interview footage with Erika M. Anderson from her latest record.

Noiseweek: Cobain documentary, OK Computer in the Library of Congress, NYT on Liturgy, new music from Death Grips, Godspeed and more

Saturday, March 28th, 2015

The sights, sounds and words of the week in noise.


Radiohead’s OK Computer has been selected for preservation at the US Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry in recognition of its “cultural, historical or aesthetic significance.” The organisation selects 25 recordings each year, and Radiohead’s seminal 1997 release joins The Doors’ 1967 self-titled album, Steve Martin’s comedy record A Wild and Crazy Guy and 22 other recordings ranging from the 1890 to 1999 to receive the honour this year.


The HBO-produced Kurt Cobain documentary Montage of Heck which did the rounds with its debut trailer a couple of weeks back has been confirmed for a theatrical run in our little island nation. US sources point to an April 10 debut in cinemas before the HBO premiere on May 4, but that’s likely a US date; the only solid information on an Australian release points to June 25.


Earth have struck up a deal with LA-based label / management company Sargent House, joining a stupidly talented roster of the world’s best power trios including Boris, Marriages, Helms Alee, Mutoid Man and Russian Circles. No word yet if this means a severance of Earth’s long-running partnership with Southern Lord.


British book publisher Strange Attractor are taking pre-orders venerable UK mag The Wire’s latest foray into print publishing with Epiphanies: Life Changing Encounters with Music, a collection of the publication’s Epiphanies column which has been running for over 17 years. Contributors include Michael Gira, Jonny Greenwood, Simon Reynolds and Lydia Lunch.


The Ark Work is Liturgy’s Third Album | The New York Times

“In his interviews and writings, Hunter Hunt-Hendrix — Liturgy’s singer and songwriter and one of its guitarists — rejected the common black-metal rhetoric of decay, doom and negative certainty in favor of the opposite: building, liberation and positive indecision. He wrote a manifesto about “transcendental black metal,” which he read aloud at an academic symposium and which was excerpted in a journal of poststructural philosophy. (For all of this he was called pretentious, as if black-metal bands of the early-’90s Norwegian period, with corpse-paint and bullet-belts and inverted crosses, hadn’t ever known pretension.) In any case, Liturgy’s music, and the predictable response to it, seemed based on what it was not — how it stood apart from what it sounded like.”

Perennially Contentious: The Return of Faith No More | Pitchfork

“While “alternative rock” was a nebulous descriptor even during the genre’s late-‘80s/early-‘90s heyday, Faith No More were the rare band to truly exemplify both halves of the term. On the surface, the San Francisco quintet resembled the sort of long-haired, ripped-denim hellraisers filling up the dance card on “Headbangers Ball”, but their absurdist take on rock owed as much to Zappa as Zeppelin. And their ubiquitous 1990 breakout hit “Epic” both defined rap-metal and defied it, gilding its atomic funk with progged-out synth fanfares and classical-piano flourishes, like a mosh pit choreographed by Cecil B. DeMille. ”

Why Would A Band of White Dudes Name Themselves Slaves? | The Fader

“From Anal Cunt to Cerebral Ballzy, there have always been bands whose names provoke a reaction, especially in the punk and hardcore scenes. Shock tactics and strong political statements are often at the heart of art—and, more cynically, marketing plans—but lately, several bands have been causing a backlash for the overtones of cultural and political appropriation evoked by their names. Prostitutes, Girl Band, and Viet Cong—who played at FADER FORT last week—all make very different music (techno, noise, and rock respectively) but the one thing they have in common is that they’re all made up of white men. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they’ve been at the centre of the discussion, with Viet Cong even having a recent university show cancelled by a promoter who deemed their name “offensive.” (The Calgary band have since issued a statement claiming they were “naive” in choosing their name and “never meant to trivialize the atrocities or violence that occurred on both sides of the Vietnam war.”)”


Godspeed You! Black Emperor — Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress

That happened quick. Godspeed only announced their fifth LP in late February; Asunder… is out on March 31 and was made available for streaming earlier this week. Some of the cuts might sound familiar — I’m almost certain the opening of “Peasantry or ‘Light! Inside of Light!” was a live staple on their first Australian tour in early 2013. It’s a track mired in dirge and drudgery, anchored by a beastly symphonic below. In fact, dirge and drudgery abound on this record: after a few listens, it feels like the most apocalyptic record yet, as if the collective have traded in their hope for nihilism.

Tangled Thoughts of Leaving — The Albanian Sleepover

Speaking of dirge, Perth quartet and LIN favourite Tangled Thoughts of Leaving have debuted the first track from their forthcoming sophomore LP. At a second under 10 minutes it’s probably the album’s shortest tracks, but it showcases the band’s darkly melodic tendencies as fields of static rise and fall under a ten-ton-heavy riffage before a brooding interlude, a crashing crescendo and a “to be continued…” until we get to hear part 2. I’ve little doubt this will be one of the best records of the year.

Drowning Horse — Drowning Horse

The most punishing band in Perth are in the midst of work on a new record that, fingers crossed, will be out before the end of the year, and before they play their first show of 2015 at our five year anniversary show at The Bakery on April 2 (tickets here!), they’ve made their debut record for free, or whatever price you may feel like paying.


Inventions — Peregrine

The first video from Inventions’ Maze of Woods is an eerie, home video-style piece of cinema that recalls cultist found footage, Jason Voorhees and Chuckie — an odd mix of aesthetics given the track’s relaxed tone, but it’s a fitting juxtaposition. You can stream more from that album at Inventions’ Bandcamp.

Joy Division + Teletubbies

It’s the film-noir fever dream you’ve always wanted.

Earth — Primitive and Deadly

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

There are two kinds of “genius” in the music industry, it seems. There are those who make gluttonous oafs in suits (never enough) money. They collude with corporations to persistently break and enter, through relentless self-69ing gimmicks such as free albums accompanied by confusing statements about how free music will kill the children, through obfuscation of the vapid emptiness of their work with shallow titillations and “transgressions,” and populating broadcasts and diatribes about what is “classic” simply because they have provided a successful and sickeningly efficient business model to boardrooms that wouldn’t know timeless music if it skullfucked them with all of the courtesy and tenderness of a daisy-cutter bomb leveling whole suburbs of Baghdad.

Then there are people like Dylan Carson and Earth… the ones who genuinely shape the future of music with everything they play, not because they want to, but because it’s simply in the nature of their honest and sincere expression. It’s also in the nature of such a seraphic beast to ignite such passion in those touched by their work whilst seemingly being passed over for the broader recognition the band deserves (even among circles with supposed more alternative tastes). This is not to say Earth are without their accolades. But if you are uninitiated, immerse yourself in their catalogue and you will be asking why you have not heard of this group before.

Earth are back with Primitive and Deadly, an incredibly diverse and detailed album that merges the distinctive phases of drone, heaviness, and country blues in their work over time into something that is so lofty it could have been recorded via a vast array of radio telescopes in a desert wasteland. The new album may divide those who had become accustomed to Earth’s incarnation as an instrumental group for the last 18 years. Yet, it would take a pretty stodgy, stubborn outlook to not be thoroughly moved by Rabia Shabeen Qazi’s spotlight performance on ‘Through the Zodiacal Light’. Since this song was showcased as the earliest teaser for the new album a few months ago, not unreasonable comparisons have been made of Qazi’s vocals to the wailings of Jex Thoth. Qazi more than matches that duality of Thoth’s languid and the possessed. The song’s marriage of ecstatic relief whilst morosely slipping away is a superb highlight in Earth’s whole catalogue, never mind just the album.

We’ve known this for a while now; and, such a preview ratcheted up the expectations. It turns out that the rest of Primitive and Deadly does not disappoint. Indeed, Earth didn’t get here by any other means than by showing everyone else how it should be done. The way they play and evolve together is as natural and relentless as their namesake, with subtle and stealthy movements of such hypnotic effect cleverly disguising the detailed and explosive creativity coursing volcanically beneath.

The record begins in devastatingly heavy form through ‘Torn By the Fox of the Crescent Moon’.  It’s tempting to call it Swedish melodic death played at 16rpm. Yet Carlson can effortlessly begin playing a riff as though it is pure metal, only to finish his phrasing with an emotive change of gears into desolate blues. Listening to the way this man writes for his instrument, it can be no surprise that he is now admired by icons that preceded him. Rarely is playing so thoughtful and considered something that sounds so effortless and flowing. His jam alongside Brett Netson on ‘Even Hell Has Its Heroes’ is another decisive pointer to this man’s supernal talent.

‘There is A Serpent Coming’ and ‘Rooks Across the Gate’ feature the album’s other guest vocalist, Mark Lanegan. Whilst it’s stating the obvious to observe the different tone he is going to offer to Qazi’s performance, there is certainly the same soulful expression that matches Earth’s playing quite well, albeit in a somewhat more understated way in the overall mix.  ‘Rooks…’ is arguably the high point of the record, if it is at all possible to identify the summit. The best music is full of contradiction. Here is something heavy yet delicate, intoxicating in its beauty whilst lyrically morbid.

Primitive and Deadly is, in a word, magnificent. Amidst such an eruption in recent weeks of amazingly good releases, Earth have reminded everyone that they are bona fide pioneers. Having already achieved a sincerely influential status with their earlier works, this new album shows that they remain at the head of the pack, gods amongst their many beautiful children.

Interview: Earth

Monday, August 27th, 2012

Dylan CarlsonThere aren’t many drone bands as old as Earth. In fact, Earth is the band that was the main inspiration for latter day doom heroes Sunn O))), who chose their name with the reasoning that Sunn O))) revolves around Earth. The band’s history is almost as rich as its namesake too. Stealing Black Sabbath’s original band name when forming in 1989, leader Dylan Carlson recruited some of the Pacific Northwest’s finest talents to join him in his crusade of creating mainly instrumental, incredibly slow and repetitive music. From former Melvins bassist Joe Preston to Kill Rock Stars record label founder Slim Moon, and even his dearly departed close friend, Kurt Cobain, Earth was successful project in its first few years.

After taking a break from releasing music in the late-‘90s due to his personal problems, Carlson returned to Earth in 2005,  with new influences drawing country and folk into the band’s already distinct sound. With the second chapter of Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light released at the start of this year, Earth has finally had the same line-up for two albums with guitarist Carlson joined by his partner Adrienne Davies on drums, Lori Goldston on cello (best known for playing cello on Nirvana’s Unplugged album), and bassist Karl Blau. But the studio version of the band isn’t the same one that shall be playing in Australia for the first time. next month. Between his sighs and mumbles, Carlson tells Matthew Hogan about his excitement for his long awaited solo album Wonders From The House Of Albion, due out next year, before the band play the Rosemount Hotel on Saturday, September 15.

What band are you bringing with you to Australia? Are you bringing the Angel Of Darkness version of Earth?

Unfortunately, Lori doesn’t want to tour anymore because of her child and Karl is not able to because he’s expecting a baby. So it Don McGreevey from The Bees Made Honey era is joining the band again. So it’s going to be the ‘classic’ line-up of keys, guitar, bass and drums, but we’re still doing some material from the new album with some older songs thrown in. So it’s Earth, but a bit more rock’n’roll, I guess (laughs).

When you guys play live do you stay true to the original versions on the albums, or do you improvise?

No, no. With the new album, since it’s so ‘improvitory’, we play it differently each night. It’s always slightly different. We base our improvisation around the main theme of the song, but then it moves around in it’s own unique way each night.

I’ve been looking at your Kickstarter page for your solo album Wonders From The House Of Albion. Tell us a bit about that – how come you’ve decided to raise money the new-fangled way?

Well it would have been an Earth project, but the other guys they have the other bands that they’re working with, and they didn’t feel that they would be able to do it. The solo thing, I kind of view it as separate to Earth. There’s some similarities with the style of the record and the interest. But I figured I could pursue that on my own while leaving Earth to do with it does. It’s something different in that I wanted it to be more of a folklore record. It will be my interpretation of English folklore songs. I’ve enlisted some singers to do the vocals. I’ve done three other solo things, one of which hasn’t come out yet, which is for The Tapeworm. The Tapeworm have this new imprint, and they will release a new double 7’’. There’s another release coming in October as well, that should have some covers on it.

What covers will you be doing?

I’m not really supposed to talk about that stuff, but it’s going to be some English songs, and then I’ve got another solo EP coming out in October as well. And then there’s the Kickstarter project, and I’m hoping to get that out in May of next year.

I see that there’s a book and DVD component of this project. Where did you get all the source footage for that side of things?

After Earth’s UK tour earlier this year, I was in England for about a month and a half. Two weeks in London doing the live thing and then headed up north and travelled around filming stuff, and doing recordings and stuff.

Where does this interest in Scottish/English folklore come from?

My grandmother was from Fife in Scotland, and she came over during the war. And I mostly have Scottish blood, like many Americans, and I’ve always been into history and that kind of stuff. I guess it kick-started off with that – oh wait! Bad pun; an accident!

You must be happy with the response – the fact that you’ve raised more than the $30,000 you were hoping for pretty quickly.

Again, I didn’t think it would be a project that a lot of people would be interested in. I’ve found more and more that if you do stuff and let people know about, then people might come out and support it. I’m blown away by all these generous people. So I’m very grateful for all of the support of Earth over the years, and the continued support of us to do this.

So is there any more Earth material in the pipeline, because it sounds like you’re focusing on a lot of solo stuff?

Hopefully we’ll be doing the next Earth record at around the spring of next year. That would be my guess as to when we’ll be doing it. I haven’t set an exact date, but it will probably be either before my solo album comes out or right after. I’ve been working up some material, so I’m sure Earth and Albion can co-exist and be parallel. I like to keep myself busy here (he starts cackling).