Instead of reviewing both albums on two separate blog posts, I decided to just combine them into one. These are the 6th and 7th albums from the legendary Drone/Post-Rock band Earth. Their most famous album is Earth 2: Special Low Frequency Version (1993), and although that is an absolute monster of an album, I feel the rest of their discography is too unknown. Over the years their sound has evolved from a heavy Drone Metal to a more mellowed out Post-Rock. In addition to their normal repertoire of instruments, a Cello is added to really capture the mood that they were after. They still play at glacier-speed, but the albums are much more melodic compared to their previous work. The mood is contemplative, abstract, bleak, and mournful.
Old Black starts off Part I with what feels like a tribute to Neil Young, given that the “Old Black” is the name of his guitar. The song also feels like something he might write, given the right inspiration. It’s slow and heavy, with an unshakable southern feel to it. It would go perfectly in a Western movie, as the hero rides off into certain death. Father Midnight feels like a continuation of that same feeling, but just slightly altered. I feel myself hanging on to every note on this album, wondering what is next, where they will go. It sounds nothing like Jazz at all, but it feels like Jazz in that same aspect. I’m anticipating the solos and how they connect to the melodies, and recognizing and remembering the repetition. This album, like a lot of Earth’s music, puts you in a deep trance of meditation and reflection. Little things become enthralling, like the claps on Hell’s Winter or the vibrato on the guitar on Old Black. To close out Part I, Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I starts off with a gorgeously smooth bass guitar. It grows into the ethereal and glowing sound that they’ve mastered, with the bass being more vocal on this track. Like I read someone describe this album, they attain a commanding quiet. So much is attained by the minimal of efforts at the slowest of speeds, it’s incredible.
Part II opens up with Sigil of Brass, a song out of my dreams. For months I had a song just like this in my head that would come to me when I was half awake. It gnawed at me so much that I thought of recording it myself just to hear what it sounded like. Then I heard this album and was blown away, this was the exact music I wanted to make. I was half elated that I got to hear what it sounded like, and half disappointed, like someone stole my thunder. Sigil of Brass is very guitar heavy compared to the songs on Part I – the drums, cello, and bass are kept to a whisper at the maximum. His Teeth Did Brightly Shine grows the sound of the other instruments, but still reins them in apart from a bass played like an exhausted march. A Multiplicity of Doors is when the sound grows completely, and Lori Goldston’s cello becomes the star. She is absolutely genius here, playing out of here mind on some of the saddest and emotive string playing I’ve ever heard. The song is 13 minutes long but I feel it’s not long enough. The Rakehell ends Part II with the my favorite bass line among both albums. Like the other songs, it’s just a joy to listen to the band improvise and play off each other.
These albums are absolutely mind blowing, a real experience from start to finish. The movements of the band or so methodical and slow that you feel every note as monumental. They’ve been albums I’ve come back to time and time again, on blue and breezy days, on the bridge between meditation and sleep. Post-Rock, Ambient, Classical and Drone fans should find something here in this music to love.