Wild Mercury Sound

The power of Earth

John Mulvey

Hot and slow in the Uncut office this afternoon, so I've put on the new album by Earth, which precisely fits the mood. Dylan Carlson's Earth, you may remember, were the Kurt Cobain affiliates who occupied the most extreme wing of grunge. Their records through the early and mid '90s largely sounded like Black Sabbath slowed down to an excruciating trudge. Gonzoid heavy, but kind of avant-garde, too.

Carlson is an unlikely revolutionary. But Earth's influence on leftfield metal has been profound these past few years, all the more unlikely since their records felt so extreme as to be an evolutionary dead end. I guess Sunn 0))) are their most obvious disciples, so it's fitting that Greg Anderson from that band turns up on the new Earth album, "Hibernaculum".

In the past few years, Earth's music hasn't got much faster, but it has mellowed, after a fashion. "Hibernaculum" largely consists of new versions of old songs, reinvented in the style of their last excellent album, "Hex; Or Printing In The Infernal Method". Today, we're going to call that style Spaghetti Doom, a sort of desert rock distinguished by great reverberant twangs, like Dick Dale at 16rpm. It's similar, too, to those bands out of LA like Savage Republic and their successors Scenic, and the widescreen, Morricone end of post-rock, Godspeed!You Black Emperor.

Heady stuff, as you might imagine, at once meditative and menacing. I remember reading about how Queens Of The Stone Age (whose new one I should hear in the next week or so) used to have generator parties in the desert when they were kids: this, I think, would be the perfect music for the end of those parties, for watching the stars in a stupor. Or, of course, for getting through sticky afternoons in London offices. . .


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