Listening to both these records over the weekend I sensed a real connection and some common threads running between the two of them. Made from two different environments and perspectives but sharing some of the same sonic aesthetics, they are disparate personalites travelling on opposite sides of the same road, with the same destination.
Earth is a band that revolves around Dylan Carlson, the one constant member since the formation of the band in Olympia, Washington back in 1991. Their sound has slowly evolved from dense, suffocating drone metal to the more structured grandeur of the last three years. In this time they have released three brilliant records with Hex: Or Printing in the Infernal Method, Hibernaculum and now The Bees Made Honey…
Brightblack Morning Light formed more recently in 2001 and revolve around the New Mexico duo of Nathan Shineywater and Rachael Hughes. Their first full length was Ala.Cali.Tucky under the name Brightblack, followed by the self titled Brightblack Morning Light and now the new Motion to Rejoin.
Earth operate as a purely instrumental band, using large dynamics, repetition and drone as the constant tools to create an atmosphere. One that conjures up images of bold landscapes, impending doom and the parched and windswept American desert. Brightblack on the other hand use a different kind of drone and repetition. Theirs is a drifting, woozier haze. Their desert is drowning in the twilight, or shimmering in the glow of the last rays of the day. It doesn’t quite produce the same feelings of dread or of marching into danger but it is still nonetheless unsettling.
Earth’s evolution has seen the inclusion of a wider palette of instruments. We hear piano, organ and glockenspiel chiming with and against guitar tones that shimmer darkly. Tones that have the same depth and grit as those Neil Young conjured up for the Dead Man soundtrack. The hymnal twang that Carlson creates reverberates and swells through the canyons in almost slow motion. The sound is mesmerizing in that you feel like you are slowly being led somewhere against your will, towards the end of the earth, it’s a feeling that the space and texture builds up chord by chord. The one track that perhaps rises above that is Miami Morning Coming Down II (Shine). Here the mood is more optimistic with a chiming guitar melody rising and falling over a cathedral organ sermon. The old phrase that comes to mind is ‘behind every cloud is a silver lining’.
Motion To Rejoin also moves through the same canyons but its journey is more intimate and mystical. The swirling tones and vocal incantations, though often lyrically indiscernable, build a mood of campfire cermonies, mexican potions, smoke and ghosts. Songs like Gathered Years also trade in the stop start lumbering rhythm but the gospel vibe in their church is a dreamier one of spells rather than brimstone and doom.
I highly recommend checking out both these records if you are curious or a fan of this psychedelic blues strand of americana and other bands such as Dirty Three, Neil Young, Mogwai, Calexico, WovenHand, Spiritualized and Metallic Falcon.
Earth – Engine Of Ruin (song)
Brightblack Morning Light – Hologram Buffalo (song)