Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The Reader About Monday

From The Reader:

Locrian, Anatomy of Habit, Human Quena Orchestra, Pharmakon

The evolution of metal from thrash to death to grind can make it look like a glorified contest to see who can play the fastest, but going all the way back to Sabbath’s viscous blues the genre has had a sludgy streak, and in the 90s a number of bands—most notably Sleep—apparently began a parallel contest to see who could play the slowest. These crawling tempos have an effect even more perverse than blinding blastbeats and warp-speed shredding, distending the songs until whatever melodies they might have are nearly impossible to parse unless you’ve got an attention span that can handle geological time frames. San Francisco doom duo the Human Quena Orchestra—two former members of Creation Is Crucifixion—have taken this approach so far that they’ve dispensed with melodies almost entirely. Their recent The Politics of the Irredeemable (Crucial Blast) is 52 minutes of droning, whistling, scraping feedback and nearly buried black-metal shrieks, punctuated by isolated guitar-and-percussion impacts that sound like intermittent artillery shelling. The album’s slate-gray atmospherics and expanses of negative space make it something like dark-side ambient music—a variation I doubt Eno could’ve predicted. Locrian headlines; Anatomy of Habit, the Human Quena Orchestra, and Pharmakon open. —Miles Raymer