Album: “The Crystal World”
Label: Utech Records
Catalog Number: URCD 56/57
Art: Justin Bartlett
Release Date: November 27, 2010
‘The Crystal World’, the third studio album from Locrian, is an epic journey. Titled after JG Ballard’s 1964 novel that tells the story of a physician who specializes in leprosy sent to a remote African outpost to discover a jungle that is slowly crystallizing and encroaching upon everything it touches. Disc one comprises six tracks while disc two consists of one extended piece, ‘Extinction’, that picks up on the intensity of disc one and sustains it for close to an hour. On ‘The Crystal World’, Terence Hannum, and André Foisy, are joined by Steven Hess (On, Pan American, Ural Umbo) on percussion and electronics.
Hess’ contribution pushes Locrian deeper into the abyss of despair rendering a sound that is darker, bleaker, and engulfing than any of the group’s previous releases. Locrian continue the conceptual trajectory of blackened drone that the group initially embarked on during their first studio album ‘Drenched Lands’ (2009). Masters of layering, ‘The Crystal World’ finds the group manipulating tones and textures that transport the listener to an apocalyptic wasteland. At times, the layers are serene and somber, at other times they are chaotic.
Of Locrian’s three studio albums, ‘The Crystal World’ is the essential release, finding the band creating a sound all of their own. A sound that evades simplistic analogies to black metal, power-electronics, noise, or other categories. This is the album that will stun fans of the bands previous works with how far the group has come from their early releases. Vinyl edition out on Utech Records in 2011.
The group will be debuting material from this album at the Hopscotch Music Festival in Raleigh, NC on Thursday, Septebmer 9th. The group will share a stage with Burning Star Core and The Ocean.
For more information, please visit the Land of Decay website.
The links between heavy metal, harsh noise and dark electronic drone should come as no surprise. Some of the best black metal records, after all, feel like half-still sonic smears, and the control of or chaos in feedback has inspired legions in every form. Even if the means are distinct, each of those genres revels in musical viscosity—who can be the heaviest, the meanest, the most exhausting with their sound? But few artists have exploited those intersections as vividly and explicitly as the aggressive, interstitial Chicago duo Locrian.
As Locrian, André Foisy and Terrence Hannum—and a constant flux of peers and friends—have been prolific for about four years, releasing a deluge of proper albums, CD-Rs, 7” records, cassettes and even an 8-track. But Locrian’s two 2010 LPs—Territories, a split release by four different labels, and The Crystal World, due in November on Utech Records—have pushed the band from the upstart experimental fringes into the domain of must-hears. Alternately eerie and irascible, Territories gets didactic in its exploration of those divides. On an 11-minute storm with the appropriately daunting name “Procession of Ancestral Brutalism,” Locrian gathers black metal ringleader Blake Judd of Nachtmystium, heavy metal saxophonist Bruce Lamont and power electronics legend Bruce Solotroff for one destructive trip. An exploration of clashing tones and structures, it’s one of the year’s most vivid, ponderous pieces of music, proclaiming possibilities for exploration rather than suggesting them. The Crystal World softens the focus a bit, scattering ghastly howls and relentless drums beneath walls of sound that seem to suffocate and swirl without ever really doing either. During closer “Elevators and Depths,” Locrian even adds circular acoustic guitar and violin. They wrap those layers around howls and noise that suggest an exorcism. It’s the sound of suspect redemption.