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Monday, 8 April 2013

Earth - '2' (SubPop)

I'm no stoner and thus I never got hip to the whole wave of bands like Sleep, Sunn O, Corrupted, etc. Not that I dislike the style - these pages will show I'm no stranger to minimal epics, heavy guitars, and glacially-paced records. I guess it's the rock edges that always got me - I'd rather trance out to a Terry Riley or Phill Niblock monolith than feel the residue of heavy metal, or whatever I imagined is there. But like most genres I have one or two entries on the shelves, and this Earth 2 CD is one I very much treasure, because it out-stoners all the stoner rock I've ever heard, and isn't really rock. It's just guitar and bass, often imperceptible from each other, in three very long tracks, with not much changing. It's the record I think Earth's reputation rests upon, or should rest upon, as it's an almost unparalleled statement especially given the time (1993) and label (SubPop, post-Nirvana)! The value in here is not just the sheer immobility of it, because there's actually quite a lot of motion and genuine riffs that return, too - but in the overall atmosphere. Put on Earth 2 and you'll spend the next 70 minutes trapped inside a spherical chamber over which you have no control of your senses. It works quietly as ambient music and it works very loud too, because there's a lot of magic happening in these guitars. 'Teeth of Lions Rule the Divine' feels unending cause it is, but there's a small universe of swirling, buzzing atmospherics on top. And the final cut, 'Like gold and faceted', is over a half-hour with some crashing percussion in the background here and there (but not too much) and it's essentially an endless slow roar. It's exactly like the time I saw Tony Conrad play live, except a meathead version. Meathead minimalism is great, though! Who cares if they have the history of 20th century composition under their belts (and maybe they do)? If Carducci taught me anything it's that intellect has no bearing on great music. These guys are still around but they reinvented themselves as a post-rock band with British folk leanings, and what I heard I really liked; but this is something special, something so simple it's actually quite difficult. 

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