Released: 2011, Fan Death Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
There’s just something about Chicago’s Locrian that goes far beyond simple genre tags like “Ambient,” “Drone,” “Experimental,” etc. Yeah, you could certainly try to pigeonhole them into any one of those prefab categories, but it’d be an injustice to the music created by this trio of powerfully talented artists. Each Locrian release is like the soundtrack to the end of the world. And not some “bbbbbbbbbbbrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrhhhhhhhhhhh” buzzsaw black metal end of the world, but real orchestral, heavy, apocalyptic, “holy shit, this is the end of the world” kind of end of the world stuff. And the band’s latest opus, THE CLEARING, follows that tradition blissfully bleak abandon.
What really endears me to this band is their ability to create defined musical structure out of what seems to be abstract nothingness. Real instruments combined with technology result in a wholly organic sounding output that’s both unsettling and captivating at the same time. Each of THE CLEARING’s four tracks mimics this formula, but with varied ingredients which helps keep things interesting. “Chalk Point” opens with the bangs of percussion and a sullen piano line that are slowly overshadowed by a rising wall of guitar notes and feedback. Which itself is then used to accompany the other instruments in creating melody. Low, chant like wails are then introduced into the arrangement, all slowly building into a remarkably heady, heavy tune. “Augury in an Evaporating Tower” consumes you in a wall of electromagnetic noise, before ramping into pseudo black metal territory (think Wolves in the Throne Room on lots of acid). “Coprolite” goes completely in the other direction. Softened by the gentle melodies of an acoustic guitar, the odious sounds brewing behind it belie the false sense of security that you’re lulled into. And the 17-minute plus title track is a slow wall of noise, noise driven from a variety of components from all angles of your headphones. It’s a bleak track that on the surface appears empty of content, but in actuality it’s quite the opposite.
I do wish that there was more to the album though. The 4 tracks included are all strong, and collectively THE CLEARING pushes towards the 40-minute mark, but it feels like a short listen. The band’s previous disc, THE CRYSTAL WORLD, only had a couple of more tracks on it than THE CLEARING does, but it felt like a “fuller” album.
That being said, THE CLEARING is still an enjoyable, moving listen. Locrian isn’t going to appeal to everyone, nor do I believe that to be their goal. But if your music collection is open enough for bands like Om, Sunn O))), WITTR, Godflesh, Neurosis, etc, this is one band that you’ll want to get familiar with.