Friday, April 15, 2011
EARTH - PENTASTAR: IN THE STYLE OF DEMONS
If I said this was Earth's best album would you hold it against me?
I can almost sense a hoard of 'Earth 2: Special Low Frequency Version' fans battering down my door and demanding some kind of redaction.
Truth is, as painfully unhip as it is to say. 'Earth 2' is a fucking tough listen. Yes it's instrumental in the state of modern metal. Sunn(o))) would not be without it. In retrospect it could be that had Dylan Carson not made us all sit through a 73 minute double album of tiresomely slow guitar chuggery that our metal brothers might have gone the way of Yngwie Malmsteen or other Dragonforce like widdly-diddly idiots. And I suppose that 'slowest band in the world' would make a nice addition to anyone's resume.
So on to the album at hand. The opener lay's out the bands game-play from the outset. It's faster than anything they have done before - Which is to say it is still very slow, but at least within the realms of listenability. I'm being harsh, it's better than that. It's solid, down-tempo Sabbath type riffage. Hypnotic and ever so slightly bluesy.
'High Command' treats us to more of the same but with the added treat of lyrics, actual words!
The third track 'Crooked Axis For String Quartet' is something else entirely. When I first heard this back in 1997 I thought it was just one chord. I put this down to my shitty stereo. Listening to it today it's as if some of Steve Reich's 'Phases' era work has bled through from the other side of the tape. It's actually very pretty, not a word you often associate these son's of Seattle with.
'Tallahassee' is pretty much the blue-print for where the band would see themselves just under a decade later. The twang of Americana bathed in the kind of fuzzy distortion with which they are synonymous. It kills and is the only track they did that ever made it onto a mix tape for a girl. (NB despite my best efforts the relationship did not go very far)
There is something of a far Eastern feel to 'Charioteer (Temple Song)' and were it not for the inescapable metallic sheen that Earth produce it could almost find a home on something by Popol Vuh.
The last 1/3rd of the album's a bit of a miss, it smarts of the group desperately trying to stretch the proceedings from EP to LP territory, there's a pretty 'by numbers' Hendrix cover, an instantly forgettable piano excursion and a reprise of the opening track to end with. Were it not for the fact that the last song on the album takes the theme somewhere else completely you might feel a bit short changed but as it is it's a solid pillar to end on.
I got this from Relay records in Bristol during my final year at college, sold it about ten years back, re-bought the CD from Everyday Music in Portland OR and then got a new copy of the LP from Music and Video Exchange in Camden about three months back.
Which reminds me. Tomorrow is 'Record Shop Day', so go out, join the lines, buy a load of limited shit by bands you don't really like and put it on Ebay... Then with the money you make, buy three copies of this and play then simultaneously and at slightly different speeds because that would be fucking awesome.