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Earth - Hibernaculum

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Artist: Earth

Album: Hibernaculum

Label: Southern Lord

Review date: Jun. 19, 2007

It’s been a long road for Earth, from the fuzzed out monoliths that inspired Sunn 0))) all the way to 2005’s gothic Americana tinged Hex. For this follow-up full-length, guitarist Dylan Carlson and percussionist Adrienne Davies continue to mine materials that might be the aural equivalent of Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian or Garth Ennis’ Preacher. What’s different is that this time around they’ve actually fused the two approaches successfully.

It might be boring to talk about methodology too much in a review, but in this case it’s necessary. Carlson’s long-standing interest in Indian music, LaMonte Young, and various drones is well-known, and early Earth music was all about the exploration of drone at the heart of all music, using overtones, oscillations and shifting wavelengths so as to structure each performance according to what was happening in a single note. Whereas Hex represented a somewhat awkward attempt to divert such explorations into American vernacular musics, Hibernaculum is a successful realization of this approach, heard in the vibrant throb of Telecaster twang and suspended pulse. In part, this may be because Earth has taken their latest approach and used it on performances of previous era.

The slow stoking of the fires on “Ouroboros is Broken” is really intense, as a tightly wound skein of organ, thudding drums and high lonesome guitar slowly attract dark clouds and shimmer with menace as they repeat, darkly. Lots of timbre, overtones and nuance here add weight to the generally plodding weight. This cut, along with “Coda Maestoso In F (Flat) Minor,” sees the duo joined by two bassists (Don McGreevy and Jonas Haskins) along with the keyboard drama of Greg Anderson and organist Steve Moore. Gently lolling piano – another tightly wounded cellular figure – opens “Miami Morning Coming Down,” which may be the track most likely to solicit Morricone references. And “Plague of Angels” features some sub-guttural droning and an excellently deployed trombone – maybe if Scelsi had a rock band it would sound like this: 16 minutes of doom clawing its way to major key resolution.

Despite the arpeggios and occasional chordal movement, there’s still a predominant focus on stillness and repetition, especially on the space between materials. It’s pretty fascinating stuff. And for those who can’t get enough, this release also comes with a DVD documenting Earth’s 2006 European tour.

By Jason Bivins

Other Reviews of Earth

Living in the Gleam of an Unsheathed Sword

Legacy of Dissolution

Hex: Or Printing in the Infernal Method

The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull

Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light 1

Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light, Vol. 2

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