Earth CD review [Southern Lord]

Music Reviews
Earth CD review [Southern Lord]
By Paul Matthew
Sep 20, 2005, 23:58


EARTH Hex: Or Printing In the Infernal Method CD

Dylan Carlson references Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian in his artist's statement, and it's no doubt that Earth's Hex: Or Printing In the Infernal Method posits itself nicely within the rich, southern gothic tradition of other works like Sanctuary or Curse of the Starving Class. Working with thematic structures that recall the dramatic trajectory of Morricone and the rock influenced gritty dirge of Neil Young's coarse soundtrack for Dead Man, Hex aspires to explore and narrate the musical terrain of the “alien and hostile yet… bewitching beauty” of western expansion's violent history.

Opening with “Mirage/Land of Some Other Order,” references to Earth's previous releases are obvious. Beginning with an eerie strumming toll that recalls the drone and repetitiveness of early Earth recordings, the piece shifts into traditional song structure, and a vague resemblance ofPentastar (In The Style of Demons) emerges. But unlike Pentastar, with its saturated and druggy Hendrix influence and locked rock grooves, Hex offers something lush, sober, and spare—albeit meditative and immediately haunting. And unlike previous works, the narratives of the pieces are more expansive, and the cycle of each song is crafted to accommodate a wild, dark search—rather than simply concentrate on THE NOTE, as Carlson refers to it. And in Earth's attempt to work towards Carlson's idea of “cosmic American musics”, one does hear those references to Billy Gibbons and Roy Buchanan in “An Inquest of Concerning Teeth” (and in it's lighter moments, perhaps a bit of Bowie's “V-2 Schneider”).

While the intra-textural touchstones are there, Hex departs from previous Earth works by including banjo, lap and pedal steel, trombone, and tubular bells. Through its nine pieces, Hex is a work that achieves the intent to reproduce the unsettling feeling that fear, not hope, is the architect behind American society. [Southern Lord]

-Paul Matthew

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