Century Plants / Locrian, “Dissolvers” split LP+CDr
December 2, 2010
By Dave Miller
Century Plants are the duo of Ray Hare and Eric Hardiman (who also runs the Tape Drift label). They’ve been on the scene for a few years now with some very nice releases. However, they dropped their CDrs and sidestepped their tape formats to put out their first-ever vinyl. And, I’m sure glad they did! First, with “Fading Out,” the moody atmosphere of the glacial slowburner crawls onto the scene. Then, as it gains more ground, scratchy effects are left in its wake. Then a hovering quality almost knocks the legs out from under this track and elevates it so that it doesn’t just approach you but lingers overhead. Second, “Delirium” is much more chord-concentrated, opening up into a spiritual journey. The repeated chords with echoed effects kind of dance around. I can just imagine some light reflecting off of a slow, small stream of water in a cave darting around on its walls. A great couple of tracks. I think these might be some of Century Plants’ best work yet.
Locrian has become a familiar friend to many of us over the last five years as well. They are the trio of A. Foisy, T. Hannum, and J. Lemos out of Chicago. Known to walk the darker side of drone, they don’t disappoint on “Dissolvers.” Their first track, “On a Calcified Shore,” is looped with a guitar whine and other sporadic effects. That whine is pretty cool though, almost like some alarm that’s gone out of order. The second track, “Omega Vapors,” has a very bass-driven undercurrent. Higher-pitched guitar reverb is dripped over top like a Pollock to his canvas. Cascades of these notes flit about, only to end on a more dour, beastly low toward the end. Another great side!
I’m not sure why, probably the name, “Dissolvers,” but this LP has opened my eyes to what’s going on in much of experimental music today. I think—and maybe you have a different take—that I approach each release from an artist as a discovery as to what they have created out of their ideas, accidents, and equipment. Like erecting some kind of soundscape sculpture. But, this LP has helped me to not think of this wide genre as something forward-acting, something building, something making. Rather, I think of this as not so much a creative service to music but a complete destructive disservice to music. This is a total deconstructive act to audio enjoyment. It is a disassembling of what we have always traditionally understood music to be. The elements and principles of music are picked apart, dismembered, dissected so that we can see why those things matter and what these things are on their own. It’s completely violent. In drone’s case, you pretty much reduce everything down to the most basic building block of music: the vibration. Vibrations are what we hear, they are the sounds that soothe and attack. And instruments are handy, easily manipulative means through which we can create such vibrations. When these sounds are assembled just right and connected as though they belong together they become musical. But, if all music is is a sound then who cares how they are made or what makes them? So, after our musical edifice has been razed, why not build again with the broken rubble before the dust has even settled? And that is the deal behind this stuff. This isn’t good or bad. It just is. It’s a result of our times and a product of the avant-garde. No matter how you look at it, however, I’m very glad that it happened. I have been able to see through a new prescription how marvelous a world of sound can be. I have felt a greater range of emotions and felt more connected with what’s deep down in me than ever before through experimental music.
Well, not only the talent on this record, nor just the insightful realizations it has invoked, but even the gorgeous packaging on this one make this well worth the money. It comes in a gorgeous black sleeve with silver ink. Minimalistic fonts and a nice, solid pic of a building (?) adorn the cover. The back continues the same font and its use, with another squared and centered pic, this time of a tree. It also comes with a heavy cardstock insert with a nice printed photo and band information on either side of it for each artist. The beautiful cherry on top is that it also comes with a killer CDr with a remix of each track on the album. What a nice extra, huh! I almost think it’s worth it just for that. Having such a perfect package I think Tape Drift should change its name and deal more with records. If they ever do come out with another vinyl release I will be expecting great things since the bar has been set so high. Don’t miss this piece of Tape Drift history! Limited to 300.