Monday, November 01, 2010

Auxiliary Out on Locrian "Territories"

From: Auxiliary Out

In this post-Yellow Swans world of ours, Locrian has always been one of the most consistent and musical of the noise brethren. I'm sure buckets of sweat went into it, but it seems Andre Foisy and Terrence Hannum just have this special chemistry. There must be an explanation, like they're telepathically linked or Siamese twins separated at birth now reuniting as one mind or some comic book shit like that. I don't know how it got be that way but it is, and there's hours of evidence and thousands of witnesses to prove it.

Bringing in the concept of collaboration to an already perfect union is a funny proposition. Collaborations, particularly in an improvisatory environment, are always risky but are always interesting as well. You never know if the unknown volatility of collaboration will lead to an explosive re-imagining of the participating parties' sounds or will it just sort of fizzle out.

In all honesty, I was initially a little resistant to this Territories LP. One of the main things that I absolutely love about Locrian is the singular chemistry shared between its members. I felt like adding collaborators would dilute the magic. But truth be told, once I nestled up to it a bit, I noticed that there' s a lot of damn fine shit on this record.

Opener, "Inverted Ruins," is a good choice to bat first as its opening seconds are phenomenal. A thin wave of feedback lingers as an echoing synth trots out a simple melody and what a great pair they make. From there the piece morphs into an actual song with loping drums, Mark Solotroff (Bloodyminded, the Bloodlust! label) growling through some effects, and a number of instruments being pushed into unstable territory. Its yet another great example of sustained tension, a feat that Locrian performs probably better than anyone else. There doesn't seem to be a lot happening; each performer is incredibly restrained. Yet! By the end, the track is just quaking and you have no idea how it got to be. The next piece is my favorite from the record and one my favorite Locrian pieces period. "Between Barrows" stews in a boggy single note synth for a while, augmented by tasteful cymbal rolls. And then it happens. Channeling, whether directly or indirectly, Basil Poledouris's magnificent opening titles for RoboCop, the piece flowers into the most beautiful of Locrian's career. Bruce Lamont contributes lilting saxophone to Foisy's and Hannum's brooding guitar and organ. It's hard to adequately put this into words. The piece is so simple but its blackened elegance is breathtaking. A must hear. "Procession of Ancestral Brutalism" is the default epic, totaling 11 minutes with 4 additional players in tow. After the near silent two minute intro, a guitar slams out a pretty rockin' progression and synth seethes along with it. From there the double bass drum kicks and the track gets a shot of heavy metal adrenaline in the heart. I'm not the biggest metal fan on the planet, so I don't totally connect to this one. It's pretty good but, in my opinion at least, it lacks a lot of the texture and detail that made the previous piece so brilliant. It does feature a pretty sweet outro though, as everything but a sole guitar falls away. "Ring Road" is another long one featuring Solotroff on vox and synth. The whole affair is a heavy throb of multiple synths and bass guitar. It's a muscular arrangement but Hannum (I think) is still working hypnotic bell-like melodies within the humid terrain of bass and synth. Tremors pulse underneath until crumbling into feedback and a melody via slide bass (again, I think.) "Antediluvian Territory" is the sole piece made only by Foisy and Hannum. The latter brings out the organ and tapes, while Foisy contributes clean-toned guitar harmonics. It's a nice piece, certainly in line with the darkness surrounding it on the album but its a touch brighter and a little more airy. Minor key organ still looms ready to swallow up the bright harmonics, but said harmonics manage to get out unscathed. The finale "The Columnless Arcade" is really great. It's dense and gritty and there's a certain looseness to it that isn't present elsewhere on this very tight record. Sounds intermingle and disappear into each other. That's the first part of the piece. There's an abrupt shift into a full band affair with pummeling drums and so forth. The shift is jarring at first but the guitarists (Foisy, Hannum and B. Judd) whip out some excellent guitar leads before the piece subsides in a brief glistening organ outro.

It's not a totally cohesive record but it was an interesting experiment and all personnel involved produced some great material.