Thursday, January 5, 2012

House of Low Culture - "Poisoned Soil" (2011) [Sub Rosa/Taiga Records]

Continuing my recent series of "soundscape"-oriented reviews is House of Low Culture's challenging, yet rewarding, Poisoned Soil. Originally a side project of former-ISIS frontman Aaron Turner, House of Low Culture's bleak, noisy drone has boasted members the likes of Jeff Caxide, Jay Randall, and the drone superhuman himself, Stephen O'Malley. After a three year hiatus, Turner reformed House of Low Culture 2010, this time as a two-piece with his wife, Mamiffer's Faith Coloccia. After three splits with Mamiffer and a collaborative live LP with Japanese noisemonger Merzbow, House of Low Culture released their first full-length, Poisoned Soil, on November 30th, 2011.

In the vein of more recent releases, Poisoned Soil shows House of Low Culture moving further away from its harsher roots, embracing elements of otherworldly, guitar-led post-rock in conjunction with punctuated periods of grating feedback and cavernous, subsonic drones. The three lengthy songs of which this album is comprised are an adventure in semi-improvised guitar manipulation, cranky samples and electronic sounds, Gamelan-inspired loops, and dreamy, soaring ambiance, no doubt a by-product of Coloccia's inclusion to the project. Between all of these elements battling for its own representation in the foreground, Poisoned Soil's shamanistic journey is complex, labyrinthine, and, at first, difficult to digest. However, after many nights listening to Poisoned Soil, though I still cannot completely grasp the inner, variegated complexities of the album as a whole, I find the even mix of claustrophobic noise and relaxing, ethereal ambiance presented in this album to be some of the finest work Aaron Turner has performed in the underground, experimental spheres he now calls home.


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