Thursday, July 23, 2009

Detective Locrian

The Gumshoe Grove discusses both formats of Locrian's "Drenched Lands"

I shouldn't be listening to this right now. It's 7 a.m. and I've barely managed to scratch myself, much less take in a harrowing doom-drone from one of Chicago's most inhospitable bands, Locrian.

But that is just what I must do (don't ask questions, just accept that I have to review this before my baby daughter wakes up). Truth be told, I've been trying to take the journey with Locrian nigh a few weeks now and I've never managed to sit through the entirety of Drenched Lands, their official full-length debut on Small Doses Records (buy it HERE or get the vinyl+3"-CD version, from Bloodlust Records, HERE or, if you're overseas, buy HERE).

Maybe it's because the thing is 64-odd minutes of wading panic with a 30-plus-minutes "bonus" track tacked on; maybe it's because I listen to a lot of music while driving, which is a horrible environment for Locrian; or maybe it's because I've unconsciously avoided taking on this lumbering beast.

Now that I'm strapped into my seat and forcefeeding myself this hovering behemoth, I realize why people are rushing to snatch up the remaining LPs out of 200 made: Because Locrian fill a highly specific niche in the world of metal, doom, drone, hardcore and noise.

Most of the "tunes" start innocently enough, usually with clean guitar strumming/picking, church bells, or the ol' standby, synths. If you're looking for a quick cash-in, get ready to take a deep breathe because you're gonna have to hurry-up-and-wait for at least a few minutes before the deluge slaps you upside the skull.

The deluge I speak of often consists of a strangely trebly -- but no less effective -- barbed-wire tangle of feedback, scratchy black-metal screaming, digital dissonance, and other such noise that will hover over your stereo like a satanic cirrus cloud until Drenched Lands is through bombarding your speakers with acid rain.

The entire five-song cycle rewards patience, but "Greyfield Shrines", at a 30:10 running time, takes even more restraint, and yet it will furnish you with an even bigger payoff if you stick with it. The only catch is you can't try to accomplish anything while imbibing; as I mentioned, don't try to drive, skate or even walk while listening to this jagged shard of dark, lest your ears get sliced and diced.

It's much better to sit back with bass-heavy headphones and let the static energy run through you. Especially sick are the whirring puddles of bass fluid dripped onto "Greyfield Shrines," along with a looped effect snippet and a general outline of white noise.

I could go on and on about this, using adjectives like "dark," "dank" and "demonic" (not to mention Locrian's forbearers like SunnO))) and peers like Pussygutt and Rakhim, both on the great 20 Buck Spin label) ...

But I won't. Listening to Drenched Lands for yourselves will do a lot more good for you -- and the underground music world.