Earth - Full Upon Her Burning Lips - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Earth - Full Upon Her Burning Lips

by Andy Brown Rating:8 Release Date:2019-05-24
Earth - Full Upon Her Burning Lips
Earth - Full Upon Her Burning Lips

The first few notes might just be enough to give it away. When it kicks in around the minute and a half mark, you know it couldn’t be anyone else. Primarily the vision of Dylan Carlson, Earth have developed a pretty recognisable sound. Full Upon Her Burning Lips is the ninth studio album from Seattle’s instrumental, drone-rock titans and continues to follow the bands own distinctive path.

On first listen it might feel like you’ve heard it all before. The beginning of ‘Cats on the Briar’ feels naggingly familiar. A minute or so in and it seems to expand, subtly becoming something new. The plates shift under our feet, creating a sound that’s familiar but fresh. It’s a trick the duo manage to pull off again-and-again.

Full Upon Her Burning Lips is fully and unapologetically an Earth album. Carlson perhaps describes it best, “It just felt like ‘Earth’—like just the two players doing their best work at playing, serving the music.”

Various contributors and collaborators have come and gone but drummer Adrienne Davies has been jamming with Dylan since the mid-two thousands. Her drumming is as identifiable and essential as Carlson’s iconic guitar style. For the uninitiated, how do I describe that distinctive Earth sound?

At times it’s like you’re wading through a swimming pool full of molasses; the purposely slow drums and the precise, repetitive riffs. It’s a slow-moving monolith, heavy and purposeful. The overall feel weighty yet graceful and pure in its apparent simplicity. Uncluttered and unhurried; everything unnecessary stripped away.

The album follows on rather neatly from 2014’s Primitive & Deadly, eschewing the vocalists and guest-stars but keeping the heavy, rock-based approach for the likes of ‘Datura’s Crimson Veils’ and the excellent ‘Cats on the Briar’. It’s on moments like this that you feel the urge to don huge aviators on and go driving through the desert.

Of course, it’s far from a simple instrumental rock album. The duo continually finding the meeting point between experimentalism and raw power. Desert rock and soothing, hypnotic sonic psalms. This is the sound of a band completely comfortable with themselves and utterly devoted to their art, their craft, and their vision.

The music, as always, is given time and space to breathe. Drones and feedback allowed to ring out between the steady, mesmeric riffs; the whole thing uncoiling in its own time. This is rock music reared on minimalism. Earth don’t need an orchestra to sound epic.

‘Descending Belladonna’ and ‘The Unnatural Carousel’ feel dreamlike, heavy yet soothing. ‘The Colour of Poison’ exploits the duo's mastery of dynamics with tense, snarling riffs. The old cliché of an album being a journey seems apt; the size and scope as breath-taking as the barren, desert-like scenery it evokes. ‘A Wretched Country of Dusk’ feels like a suitably epic and widescreen way to bring proceedings to a close.

Earth’s sound is a gradual and ever-evolving process; an ongoing sonic exploration. Full Upon Her Burning Lips is another satisfying permutation. New and old fans alike should come and revel in the pure, unfiltered Earth-iness of it all.

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