EARTH‘s career, like its music, has always been a slow, deliberate progression. Each record slightly removed from the last, a constant refinement of a singular vision. Dylan Carlson has remained focused throughout on coaxing moments of strange beauty and reflection from “the riff”. This elemental foundation of rock is refracted, in their earliest recordings, through the prism of sheer volume and feedbacking drone or, in the twin Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light set from 2011 and 2012, via a sparse unraveling take on folk.
With Primitive And Deadly, EARTH‘s tenth studio collection, Carlson and long term cohort, drummer Adrienne Davies, manage to pull off the trick of completing an Ouroborean creative cycle, twenty-five years in the making, whilst exploring new directions in their music. For the first time in their diverse second act, they allow themselves to be a rock band, freed of adornment and embellishment. As much as Carlson’s guitar has always been the focal point of EARTH‘s music, it’s been surrounded by consistently diverse instrumentation. Here the dialog between Carlson and Davies drumming remains pivotal, underpinned by the sympathetic bass of Bill Herzog (Sunn O))), Joel RL Phelps, Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter) and thickened by additional layers of guitar from Brett Netson (Built To Spill, Caustic Resin) and Jodie Cox (Narrows). Perhaps the largest left turn on Primitive And Deadly, though, is prominence of guest vocalists Mark Lanegan and Rabia Shaheen Qazi (Rose Windows) who transform the traditionally free ranging meditations of EARTH into something approaching traditional pop structures.
On “Rooks Across the Gates,” a song stylistically the closest to the folk inspired modality of Angels Of Darkness, Carlson stretches out into some of his most lyrical playing to date, creating an almost symbiotic relationship between his performance and the vocals of old friend Mark Lanegan. “From the Zodiacal Light,” meanwhile, takes the late 60s San Franciscan/freaked-out jazz-rock transcendence ofThe Bees Made Honey In The Lion’s Skull and quickly re-appropriates that sound into a musky torch song for the witching hour.
This contradictive tension between a band pushing itself ever-forward whilst surveying their history is reflected in the albums twin recording locales. The foundation of the record was laid in the mystic desert high lands of Joshua Tree, California where EARTH recorded hour after hour of meditations on each tracks central theme at Rancho de la Luna. Upon returning to Seattle these were edited, arranged and expanded upon at Avast with the help of long-term collaborator Randall Dunn (who was previously at the helm for the Hex, The Bees Made Honey In The Lions Skull and Hibernaculumsessions).
Thick, dense and overdriven, melodically rich and enveloping, Primitive And Deadly is EARTHreaffirming their position as a singular point in the history of rock. The album will see worldwide release this September, with a final street date to be announced shortly.
Prior to the album’s release, Southern Lord shall be reissuing Hex; Or Printing In The Infernal Methodand The Bees Made Honey In The Lion’s Skull on LP on June 24th in North America. In the meantime, fans can listen to the opening track from Dylan Carlson’s solo soundtrack, Gold which will see independent digital and LP release on June 17th, 2014 – the deluxe vinyl limited to 1000 copies – while Daymare Records out of Japan will handle the CD pressing worldwide, now playing at PitchforkHERE.