Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Locrian - "The Clearing" (2011) [Fan Death Records]

As my third Locrian review this year, and my eighth Locrian-related writeup overall, I find it more and more difficult each time to write a strong introduction. I've covered their history, their brilliant assimilation of genre while retaining their unique stylistic integrity, and, more importantly, their consistently awe inspiring, prolific output. Normally I find myself in a semi-panicked state when I can't write a good introduction because, let's face it, I love going on tangents and telling stories, but then it hit me, it is awesome that I'm running out of ideas of what to start a Locrian review. After dwelling on the idea for a while, the fact that a band is able to crank out so much solid material at such a pace that I can't constantly provide (what I think are) witty anecdotes and observations is a pretty phenomenal feat (Note: I'm not tooting my own horn here...I just have inherited the "infinite library of stories" trait from my mother's side of the family).

The Clearing, Locrian's fourth full-length release, shows the Chicago/Baltimore trio taking a step back. No, not in songwriting or performance quality, but in sound. Gone are the crushing doom passages of The Crystal World and, aside from the first half of the washed-out blasting in "Augury in an Evaporating Tower," there really isn't much black metal akin to Territories or the b-side of their impressive 7" on FlingcoSoundSystem. If anything, this album has much more in common with their first full-length effort, 2009's Drenched Lands, whose eerie, synth-drenched drones still make me look over my shoulder from time to time. I guess you could sort of call this effort Locrian's "return to their roots," which isn't so far-fetched, what with extensive percussion-lacking, amorphous guitar, synthesizer and voice ambiance and the immense sense of foreboding that was really only seen in early recordings. The Clearing moves like a dense fog, enveloping you in otherworldly, nightmarish sound paintings, droning quietly into your psyche before exploding into unforgettable grandeur.

Like Fennesz covering black metal beneath a mountain of ash, or a warped krautrock LP played at 78 RPMs with the volume only halfway up, The Clearing shows Locrian at their most disparate and unusual, eliciting sensations of dread and unease. What a perfect time of year for such wretchedness. Pre-orders are still available from Fan Death Records.


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