Monday, January 19, 2009
Locrian 7" on Bloodlust records
The Locrian mode is a minor scale of some kind used in all kinds of metal and I'm not musically trained enough to know if any of this material is built on this half diminished scale, but I have a feeling the name is more than related to this structure and the ominous, maybe inherent unsettling sound of this chord progression.
Are there sounds that in any culture would be universally frightening? (Other than animal warnings...) Another post for another day I think.
The band Locrian is Andre Foisy and Terrence Hannum on guitar and synth filtered through tons of electronics, distortion, delay, sampled loops and definitely in this ominous, dark feel. I don't know if I have been taught to fear these noises through popular culture or not, but this is not what I would call joyful music in any sense. I think the sound of a jarring distorted sample repeated over and over is so unnatural...you're immediate reaction is repulsion.
Their press materials list Terrence as vocals, but these two tracks on their 'Plague Journal' are instrumentals as far as I can tell. It may be so manipulated that any sense of the human voice is completely destroyed, unrecognizable. I would be amazed if they actually got to that point here. But this isn't just a barrage of extreme noise, I know it sounds like that. These two tracks are very different sides of their experimentation that I would say exists somewhere in the metal-psyche world. One side more metal/nu-noise and the other more ambient/environmental.
The A side abruptly starts with a distorted guitar phrase, looped into infinity. The hitting of the string keeps changing like the Disintegration Loops, the decay of the sound combined with the one being played on top becomes almost percussive. A low distorted bass or kick, with a metallic edge. It even becomes something of a didgeridoo kind of sound, a bass doubled in on itself...and on itself.
It becomes layers on layers of quick little heavy phrases into infinity....somewhere on this chain is ultra echo at the point where literally the waves...the actual sound waves themselves are building on each other like the ocean and doubling up creating this deep low end whomp sound, like breaking the sound barrier.
It's the slow evolving track that wherever it ends up you don't remember how it got there exactly, it's devolved into quieter electronics and atonality. I can't tell exactly again what these sounds originated as...a far away brass note...mountains of hiss, feedback...a long drawn out siren.
But you can barely hear any trace of a guitar by the end.
B-Side lots of ethereal effects turning into a wind sound....there's definitely organic sounding elements, but I tend to think it's an electronic sound bent to the point of high pitch echo, delayed out to just be hiss? Or it is just tape hiss amplified and faded in and out.
This is the contemplative side with this finger tapping guitar note style, like I've been hearing about with Marnie Stern, but way slowed down, it's turned into something switched on and off. Towards the end I must be hearing something that started out as Terrance's vocals, far off in the distance....the best kind of ending the endless vinyl loop finishes this off...it's on pure white noise vinyl...
They are playing tonight at the Empty Bottle in Chicago...go check it out for yourself.
Available on Bloodlust records:
BloodLust! 089 Locrian "Plague Journal" 7-inch $8.00 USA/$10.00 Canada+Mexico/$12.00 Rest of World @ postpaid (Pressed in an edition of 300 copies; White vinyl; White labels with minimal black text; Unmarked white cardboard sleeves - sealed on three sides; Black and white insert; Locrian's first appearance on vinyl sees the duo of Andre Foisy and Terence Hannum distilling their specific take on deconstructed metal trance music down to just over a dozen minutes of finely balanced, passive/aggressive, shimmering psychedelic drone; Includes locked-groove on B-side; private series number seventeen)