Earth: “Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light 1”

A raised eyebrow last week, when the new Earth album arrived, accompanied by a press release citing Pentangle, Fairport Convention and Tinariwen as key influences. It’s been a fair while, of course, since Dylan Carlson’s outfit made music quite so doomy and reductive as their reputation.

Trending Now

Pete Townshend looks back at The Who in 1967: “I don’t think I was angry”

Smashing guitars, hanging out with Small Faces and keeping Keith Moon onside

Mogwai: Album By Album

Founded in 1995 and initially a trio, Glasgow’s Mogwai made their debut with “Tuner/Lower”, a self-pressed seven-inch in thrall...

Introducing the new issue of Uncut

GETTING YOUR COPY OF THIS MONTH'S UNCUT DELIVERED STRAIGHT TO YOUR DOOR IS EASY AND HASSLE FREE - CLICK...

Introducing the Deluxe Ultimate Music Guide to Bob Marley

In-depths reviews and archive encounters with the reggae legend

A raised eyebrow last week, when the new Earth album arrived, accompanied by a press release citing Pentangle, Fairport Convention and Tinariwen as key influences. It’s been a fair while, of course, since Dylan Carlson’s outfit made music quite so doomy and reductive as their reputation.



Nevertheless, folk-rock and Tuareg jams feel like they still might be a bit of a stretch, and so “Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light 1” proves. Much of the music in these five long tracks initially feels very much like a continuation of “The Bees Made Honey In The Lion’s Skull”, a sort of blasted Americana, more or less tectonic at the speed it evolves.

After a few listens, though, I’ve started spotting nuances in this gravity-heavy, hugely impressive music. Somewhere in the 12-odd minutes of “Father Midnight” emerges something of a jazz-tinged roll to the rhythm section, a brushed and high looseness underpinning Carlson’s still blackened riffing. A few years back, I came across the German doom-jazz band, Bohren Und Der Club Of Gore, evidently Earth fans. It now seems as if Carlson might just be a Bohren fan in return, given the monolithic swing that Earth – currently a quartet – are practising.

When I blogged about “The Bees Made Honey…”, I mentioned how Earth had belatedly moved into a grand tradition, that what was once unanchored noise-rock had grown backwards towards the blues. On “Angels Of Darkness”, that process seems even more advanced: as “Descent To The Zenith” unfolds, it’s not too far-fetched to suggest Earth have found a groove. It’s not one immediately comparable to that of Tinariwen, but a kindred sense of letting a serpentine groove work itself out, in its own time, driven by its own imperturbable forward motion, is not entirely dissimilar.

British folk-rock, however, remains harder to spot among the rubble. Lori Goldston’s cello comes very much into the foreground on the 20-minute closing title track, circling ponderously and reminding me very slightly of a Nick Drake track or two. For all the imprecations of doom in the language that Carlson uses for his music, though, “Angels Of Darkness…” feels serenely expansive; the work of a band heading inexorably, but extremely slowly, towards a kind of rock orthodoxy. Give Carlson another 20 years, and he might be tantalisingly close. In the meantime, though, the journey is remarkable – and hellishly hard, as an aside, to write about sentiently today.

Advertisement

Latest Issue

The Who, New York Dolls, Fugazi, Peggy Seeger, Scritti Politti, Bob Dylan, Marvin Gaye, Serge Gainsbourg, Israel Nash and Valerie June
Advertisement

Features

Advertisement