Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II
Imagine Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother played at one-quarter speed, and you get an idea of what Earth sounds like. This record is a follow-up to the band’s 2011 release (vol. 1); it was recorded at the same sessions. The music moves at a glacial, liquid-metal pace. It’s so slow and spare that it recalibrates your metabolism, dialing down your body and mind, like some deep-breathing exercise for the ears. It’s music as medicine. And -- it’s true -- it makes you feel better, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t sting at times. The guitar lines unfold with a clean metallic edge, hovering in drone mode, pivoting over minimal lines with slow-mo arpegiations that collapse the brain’s ability to process, turning notes separated by time into a kind of sideways harmony. Listening is a bit like watching the thread of smoke from a stick of incense curl and climb to the ceiling; it’s mesmerizing, prayerful, slightly ominous. The band is instrumental: guitar, bass, cello and drums. Earth has something in common with doom metal, if only because of the consciousness-altering tempos. Where some doom bands, like Sunn O))), say, achieve a kind of explosive force through chest-crushing volume and abrasive sheets of distortion, Earth’s sound burns clean, more like a blowtorch than a stick of dynamite. It might be counterintuitive, but the musicianship required for this kind of skeletal playing is immense. Listen to how the drummer wedges little micro-second pauses before hitting her snare drum, using her high-hat foot as a kind of staggered time-keeping anchor. (When the band played live in Hartford last summer they were a study in artistic poise, virtuosic restraint and expressive economy.) The only real “soloing” seems to come from the cello, which occasionally keens and moans, emitting swirls of braying ornamentation around a hypnotic melody line. There are moments when these songs seem to have a connection to the blues, in the way that a pelt that has been stretched and nailed to a barn door to dry has a relationship to the original shape of the animal whose skin it once was. - John Adamian
Album of the Week: Earth's Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light, II
The mind-altering liquid-metal tempos of Earth
So slow it hurts.