Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Brainwashed on Locrian "Territories"

From Brainwashed

Locrian, "Territories"

Written by Creaig Dunton
Sunday, 28 February 2010

cover imageLooking back, it has only been a bit over a year since the Greyfield Shrines LP, my first exposure to these guys, yet in that year I’ve heard as significant amount of development and change in their work. While that release was reminiscent of the intentionally minimalist drone of Sunn O))), subsequent work has brought in greater elements of noise, electronic music, and post-punk alternative. This LP is perhaps the ultimate culmination of that, being released by no less than four labels and featuring guest appearances from members of Bloodyminded, Nachtmystium, Yakuza, and Velnias.

At War with False Noise/Basses Frequences/Bloodlust!/Small Doses

The change and evolution of their sound is immediate once "Inverted Ruins" launches. The carefully controlled feedback of Andre Foisy’s bass guitar and the simple echoed stabs of Terence Hannum’s synths could be on any of their releases, but the addition of live drums from Velnias member Andrew Scherer and the distant, disgusted vocals of Bloodyminded’s Mark Solotroff push the sound closer towards rock territory, while synthesizer drones and digital noise pull it in the opposite direction. The song slogs along at the pace of stoner rock, but there’s far more noise experimentation going on for it to drift into caveman riff-heavy Sabbath territory.

The long "Procession of Ancestral Brutalism" embraces the squall of black metal, but with a distinct sound and structure that contradicts the genre’s infatuation with muffled flatulent production and cookie monster vocals. Aided by Nachtmystium’s Blake Judd on vocals and guitar, it’s not surprising that it conjures images of black metal, but the complex layering of guitars over Hannum’s almost prog-rock synth lines and Scherer’s freak out drumming, all with a cavalcade of vocal parts sounding like Mayhem and Can battling it out with neither side dominating the other.

The closing "The Columnless Arcade" features the same line-up, with the addition of Yakuza’s Bruce Lamont on saxophone. The screamed tortured vocals and rapid staccato guitar also give a metallic sheen to the proceedings, but there is a greater aridness to the track, a bit more light let in. Shades of the post-punk guitar sound that appeared on the recent 7" split with Harpoon are here as well, giving a purer tone and color than other artists are usually able to muster.

Between these longer pieces linger a few shorter, more sparse instrumental bits that are no less captivating. The sustained organ and insect saxophone of "Between Barrows" have a meditative quality that fits well between the louder, more boisterous tracks. Similarly, "Antediluvian Territory," which sits as the penultimate track, is a sparse duet of organ and guitar, which soars and rings on with a melancholy beauty that calls to mind, at least in mood, some of the best moments of the Cure’s Seventeen Seconds for some reason.

This time last year I thought these guys were doing something different in the field of drone metal, which has continued to be an overly cluttered genre, but I wasn’t sure exactly what that difference was. While I have been concerned at their prolificness over the past year, their output has never been superfluous or unnecessary. Territories stands as the full realization of the tapes, EPs, and split 7" singles that the band has issued in this time, perfectly encapsulating their dark, dystopian sound with the ideal balance of pure heaviness and pensive drone. Topping this one will be tough, but I’m thinking they will be able to do it in time.