Sunday, December 14, 2008

New Locrian Review

Re-post from The One True Dead Angel

Locrian -- RHETORIC OF SURFACES [Bloodlust!]

The more I hear from the Chicago noise duo Locrian, the more impressed I am. Combining a deep appreciation for drone and harmonic noise, the six longish tracks here are actually a combination of old, out of print material and new, unreleased stuff. The tracks have been selected and sequenced, however, in such a manner that the album sounds like a coherent, cohesive statement of singular vision, as opposed to a collection of odds and ends. Part of this, I suspect (although it's hard to be sure having heard only a small sampling of the band's catalog so far), is their attention to quality control; this is a band that consistently releases excellent work. Whether that's due to routinely high-caliber performances or a good sense of what's suitable for public release is an open question, although I suspect it's the former as much as the latter. On this particular release, it doesn't hurt that everything was remastered (by Jason Soliday) for maximum conformity of audio quality.

Two of the tracks, "Burying the Carnival" and "Visible / Invisible," were previously released on split cassettes with Continent and Colossus (and reviewed by TOTDA back in August); "Gruen Transfers" is from the Scissor Death compilation NO MORE NOISE; the final two tracks, "Chiladni" and "Amps Into Instruments," are from the band's self-released (and now out of print) cd-r / double-cassette release II; and the opening track, "Drosscape," is previously unreleased. Regardless of the different sources and time periods involved with these recordings, aesthetically speaking, they're all squarely in the territory of ominous, dark-ambient noise drone; some of the pieces are more rhythmic than others, and there's a fair amount of variation in the noises and textures involved (the band favors a sound rooted heavily in the use of guitar and keyboards for the bedrock of their droning noise death), but they all share a dark, plodding atmosphere filled with swirling shards of noise and harmonic overtones, and the pieces flow together well. The sounds are sometimes harsh, but outside of an unexpected peal of really piercing feedback early on in 'Burying the Carnival," this is not work that assaults your senses with cut-up explosions and noise bombs. The pieces are more concerned with a hypnotic trance vibe and a vaguely metallic tonal quality, and above all else, the healing power of the almighty drone. If you've never heard the band before, this is an excellent place to start, especially since their earlier stuff is so hard to find. Bonus points for the simple but elegant graphic design.