Earth - _Hex: Or Printing in the Infernal Method_
(Southern Lord, 2005)
by: T. DePalma (9.5 out of 10)
While scanning the anthology of black and white photographs that line the interior of Earth's latest studio effort, just as the record germinates from its bleary twin opening of "Mirage" and "Land of Some Other Order", the tattered atmosphere born of these distinct mediums takes stronger root. Inside, a slideshow of American Indians are cast alongside American cattle rangers, rows of Teepees parallel the modern town with buggies set to unload. Unnamed men of uncommon culture stare into the long distance, staring from pits (and hills) of postmortem tissue, and staring through to you, with faces locked in their telepathic frame. A collection that references the occult through science and folk superstition -- photography itself and the title-bearing Hex signs used on the ominous barns of Dutch settlers throughout the set -- while offering a brief glimpse of the spirit and grief that move man into such scenery. With this, Earth has become transposed from its antecedent drone tinkering toward a stripped, damn near ossified sound that yields a more conceptual -- and by far the heaviest -- album of its storied lifespan. Not merely a curious attachment to the latest stoner rock opus, these archival captures are part and parcel to the whole album. As flippant as it seems, the truth is: it sounds exactly like this.

So much of Dylan Carlson's pioneer vehicle invests in the cumulative recognition of cultural emblems and frontier snapshots in lieu of lyrics, as the cinematic turn the duo has taken becomes an eidetic narrative to these worn and stoic environs. A journey told with sewn lips and stinging ensemble of funereal country archetypes. Equipped with trombone, electric guitar, organ and lap and pedal guitars, nine tracks make their way through the dust and gray shade of memory.

Achieving in music to a lesser extent what James Marsh's excellent film "Wisconsin Death Trip" communicated (based on the book of the same name), the album exudes a bucolic tenderness and tradition that intercedes with the march of progress and order as man confronts man, nature and his own creations. The contrast between the locomotion of labor and ceremony is one where Earth combines the twang of Neil Young with the dramatic Western mold of Ennio Moriccone. Those steadily held notes being brought into tickling drone hymns of no salvation, fitted with the most perfectly conceived song titles: "Land of Some Other Order" with its psychedelic vibrations of steel and brass, "The Dire and Ever Circling Wolves" portraying dearth and defeat through its wrangling melody and "The Felon Wind" edging out with slowly percussive chords trailed by a pair of banjo and blues guitar leads seeking freedom as outlaws of convention. The sounds of which will likely lure other groups under its influence as the past repeats itself. It is the heritage of swarms; the bold and bitter steps of migration that Earth channels under the ward and pride of the Hex.

Contact: http://www.thronesanddominions.com

(article published 26/10/2005)


ALBUMS
1/15/2011 J Carbon 8.5 Earth - Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I
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