Earth - Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Earth - Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II

by Andy Brown Rating:10 Release Date:2012-02-13

It's been a year since Earth released the wonderful Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light 1; an album of dark, slumberous beauty that saw Dylan Carlson cement Earths' reputation as one of America's most unique and underrated musical projects. This second instalment sees the same line-up return to deliver the closing chapters of this modern rock opus. Alongside long-time collaborator Adrienne Davies on drums, the album features Karl Blau back on bass and Lori Goldston supplying cello alongside other 'devices'.

I'll probably say this in every article I write about Earth, but it's difficult to overstate how much Carlsons' music has developed over the years, while retaining a few aesthetic mainstays of course. This point can be made even clearer if you watch the rather worrying video to early Earth 'hit' 'Tallahassee'. In the video Carlson and friends drive about town, score drugs, carry guns and leave a woman's body, "…twitching by the road" (as the lyrics go). If you watch that video it's hard to imagine that the musician behind it would be making albums like Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light. The signs are there though, just look at the massive leaps between Earth 2: Special Low Frequency Version, Pentastar: In the Style of Demons and Hex: Or Printing in the Infernal Method. Earth records have gone from pure drone and noise, through sludge-rock and western-tinged sparseness to arrive at a place so utterly unique that it can only be described as 'sounding like Earth'. Hopefully I'll think of a few more descriptive phrases to flesh out this review a little but really you have to give this album a listen.

The album opens with, possibly, the shortest Earth song ever committed to tape; the delicately beautiful 'Sigil of Brass' (all three minutes, thirty-two seconds of it). Dylan's slowly picked guitar echoes clearly as Goldstons' cello seeps in and out of the speakers, a suitably disarming introduction to the album. It's the most unreservedly pretty piece of music Dylan's put his name to. 'His Teeth did Brightly Shine' picks up the pace ever so slightly (and I mean ever so slightly, since when has Earth been about pace anyway?) with muted acoustics and gentle percussion underpinning Dylan's languidly psychedelic lead guitar. There's a lot of space in this album and a lightness of touch that makes these five pieces a further progression in the Earth sound and some of the most subtlety entrancing music they've done.

'Multiplicity of Doors' sounds like a companion piece to part one's 'Old Black', producing a sound that Dylan's been perfecting since 2008s' The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull. Here, Carlson definitely hits a peak. His trademark slow-riffs coupled with Davies' equally slow drumming are complemented perfectly by Goldstons' deep, brooding cello arrangements. As gorgeous as anything produced by The Dirty Three, Mogwai or Low (a few - possible - musical reference points). In 'The Corascene Dog' you can hear the deep rumblings of Blaus' bass leading the way forward as Carlson and Goldston feed into the sound; it's an all-consuming atmosphere they create.

It's an album, as is usual with Earth, which requires your full attention. You've got to 'set the mood' as it were; don't listen to this album through your laptop speakers with the lights on bright for instance. If you give Earth time, they'll get completely under your skin. The album finishes with one of the most optimistic sounding Earth pieces I've heard, perversely called 'The Rakehell'. There's a groove running through this track and an even more present avant-jazz influence here too (yeah, I said groove in an Earth review).

This album could definitely be seen as the 'light' side to the opus. Part one was definitely a 'late at night' record (just look at the titles; 'Father Midnight', 'Old Black') while Angels of Darkness, Demons of light II approaches the dawn with a tired-looking smile on its face. You've made it through the darkness and things are looking up.

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