Monday, December 13, 2010

Animal Psi on "The Crystal World"

Link here.
Having groped their way fantastically into their/our demo-less Teens, Locrian enter maturity with 'The Crystal World'. Coming off the stunning display of vision on 'Territories', the pair of Hannum and Foisy now recruit collaborator Steven Hess of On to formalize a style of doom all their own, breaking sharply from the occultism (Sunn, Sleep) and rockness (Thrones, Boris) of the reigning sound to generate a musical cosmology with science-fictitious detail. A truly "high definition" release, the painstaking editing here casts such a depth as to often swallow with shadow the harmonic structures which equally break all precedence for the band. Extended intro "Triumph of Elimination" seethes with heating currents and a variety of buzzing statics; clattering like a shrapnel wind-chime, little ornaments trickle high as the ear strains to make out the approaching barrage of a droning horn, a pure wrath prophesied in shredded, Eric Wood bellows. With less than a beat of breath, "At Night's End" begins with a chant of indeterminate benevolence, the trickle now closer and the circuitry cool. It's halfway through, or nearly 10 minutes into the album that we're reminded of the guitar-derived leads which made 'Territories' such a statement. Yet this guitared sound is on it's way out, even when it arrives, as the doom sludge is always peeling upward, elevating the track, and ultimately giving way to the modular loops of John Carpenter horror ballad and title track "The Crystal World" (suitably sourced to a JG Ballard story). Guitar is almost an afterthought on "Pathogens", where Hess' percussion confirms a central, dominant position within the granular portrait: not ambient but rendered as ambiance, the image is spacious and less-figurative, but it's meant to be looked at (hard). As if to reclaim their authority over the work, "Obsidian Facades" offers just such a glassy finish of human breaths and breathy frequencies of shredded, fuzzy guitar, in the end breaking only as a reference into the theatrics of ISIS or Cave-in as a segue into the simply-massive conclusion "Elevations and Depths", a sort of 'Brief History of' Metal since 1997. Not an album to be taken for granted, 'The Crystal World' is a rich, rewarding listen and a worthy sequel to the wonder that has become Locrian. CD version also includes a second disc with the 54-minute "Extinction", in case all that bleak didn't convince you. Pro-pressed discs snugged into a heavy gatefold sleeve with stunning art by Vberkvlt. Recommended, inevitably. (Utech 2CD, $17 HERE)