Monday, February 23, 2009

Locrian - Paris Transatlantic


It's raining. It's been raining off and on for the past week, either that or snowing. Bloody miserable. Perfect weather for enjoying this package of goodies from Chicago-based Locrian. Andre Foisy and Terrence Hannum – though maybe I'm not supposed to reveal their first names, as on the discs it's just A. Foisy and T. Hannum – play, if the back cover photograph of the Rhetoric of Surfaces CD is anything to go by, guitars, synths and a battery of FX pedals, and have, over the past four years, been digging deep into the extremely fertile (even if at first sight it might appear barren) wasteland between heavy drone and doom metal. Limited edition cassettes and CDRs have often been the group's medium of choice, but, like many of their peers in the world of noise, they've sought to preserve some of the rarer (and presumably by now OOP) gems in CD form.
Rhetoric of Surfaces is the one to get then, and the opening "Drosscape" – the only track not previously released, it seems – establishes the mood of the album from the get-go. Over an ominous backdrop of sustained low register synth tones, guitar lines teeter on the brink of uncontrollable feedback. It ends suddenly, but distortion and delay is the name of the game once more on "Burying The Carnival" (this is also available on a self-released cassette, along with a companion piece "Exhuming The Carnival", though the sound quality understandably leaves a little to be desired compared to the CD.. not that that's ever been a problem for fans of this kind of sound), with extreme high register metal-derived guitar lines screeching like demented seagulls over a decidedly chilly bassline semitone loop. Dark, doom-laden stuff to be sure, but ravens and elemental human dread notwithstanding, the tolling bell that opens "Visible / Invisible" is convincing – and musical. But the best is yet to come, with "Amps Into Instruments", a carefully structured epic which finally settles on a four-note bass riff (the same four notes as The Cure's "A Forest", actually.. intentional?) and builds impressively to a powerful conclusion.