Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Heathen Harvest Review of "Rain of Ashes" Tape

Monday, February 01 2010 @ 02:00 AM PST
Contributed by: Vargr Wulf
Rain of Ashes

Artist: Locrian United States

Title: Rain of Ashes

Label: Fan Death Records United States

Genre:Experimental Rock/Electronic Drone

Track Listing:

01 Rain Of Ashes
02 Sehsa Fo Niar

Brilliant work from this heretofore unknown-to-me duo from Chicago. Fantastic improvisational dream music that lay somewhere between the vibes of Earth, Conrad Schnitzler, and Burzum. Judging from the beautiful live photograph accompanying this release, this is a duo consisting of a guitarist and a keyboardist with a fair amount of effects. This release consists of a single live track (on the illustrious WMUC no less) from this past summer forward on one side and backward on the other side. This release has really beautiful artwork on the front depicting a nightmarish swampy power grid surrounded by leafless trees. Locrian plays very atmospheric music with firm, metal-influenced guitar and all-encompassing keyboards, which build up and swell into violent crescendos that fade back into the mist as rapidly as they appear.

Music is performed improvisationally at a snail's pace ala the recent work of Dylan Carlson/Earth and the group named after the Sunn amps.

Grunting noise keyboards blend seamlessly with the guitar work in a particularly tense moment near the end of this release. The only vocals are of the screamed and tortured variety, and they pop in and out of the composition at will. Locrian blends a fair amount of power electronics sounds with and drone/black metal vibe, but along with these eerie and frightening sounds are ethereally beautiful stretches of otherworldly synthesizers that could have emerged from a Fripp and Eno record. And would you believe it, the whole thing sounds even better backwards, which is how it is presented on the B-side.

These guys have an LP coming out on Mark Solotroff's Bloodlust! label, that should be pretty magnificent. I am curious to hear the studio work of this project, as the musicianship on this live recording is exemplary. I have to say that both sides are fantastic, but that the backwards side is my personal favorite. Almost anything sounds better backwards, but in this stuff it really brings out a quality of mystical otherworldliness. Live music that you don't "have to be there" to enjoy, as there is much to get out of this fantastic recording. Fan Death Records could not have put together a nicer presentation for this amazing work from Locrian, whom I look forward to hearing more from.