Album: Plague Journal 7"
1. Plague Journal
2. Apocryphal City, Portents Fallen
Locrian is the Chicago-based duo of Terence Hannum and Andre Foisy, visual artists and academics who meld processed synthesizers, guitars, vocals, and loops into fluid, shifting noise pieces. Their approach is influenced primarily by the more artistic/esoteric wing of black metal and the ambient/drone tone float experiments conducted by Fripp, Eno, and a host of electronic musicians in the 1970's; at times, elements of heavy, guitar-based post-rock and industrial seep in as well. They've been steadily amassing a catalog of highly limited releases across all the collector scum formats, gradually refining their approach, which culminated in this year's monolithic Drenched Lands full-length. Their fine-arts background shows in the artwork of their releases, focusing on abandoned cast-concrete buildings and esoteric sigils. Their live shows have made them popular on the festival circuit, and have led to some oddball show pairings (opening for Anal Cunt in New York City, for one).
The Plague Journal 7" was released last year as part of Bloodlust! Records' Private Series, with packaging that's a sharp break from the rest of their finely developed aesthetic. Like the other releases in the Private Series, it has a plain white cover, is on white vinyl with minimal information on the labels, and has an insert with only the most basic information about the release available. If the idea is to get the listener to pay attention to the music contained within, it's a successful one, as Plague Journal is an essential piece of Locrian's catalog. Side A begins with a particularly hypnotic delayed guitar riff played by Foisy, which decays into layers of synth static. Slightly over four minutes in, a shimmering, bell-like texture emerges, the piece shifting into a more melodic, floating tone for the final minute or so. Side B begins with a swirling, wind-like synth pad, as a repetitive guitar figure, reminiscent of Glenn Branca or Mogwai, remains in the eye of the storm. It gradually gets more intense and violent, before the side ends in a locked groove.
Both of Locrian's full-lengths are phenomenal as well, but may be too foreboding for a more casual listener. A shorter release, like this 7" or one of their many tapes, is a good way to get a taste of their sound before delving into the pollution-blackened depths of the rest of their catalog.