Tuesday, 9 December 2014

DRCARLSONALBION - Gold (Album Review)

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 17/6/2014
Label: Daymare Records

‘Gold’ CD/LP/DD track listing

Gold I - XXIV


Gold is the first major soundtrack work from DYLAN CARLSON, composed for a foreign language western of the same name; a story of German pioneers traversing the Canadian West. CARLSON’s score, which revolves around key guitar motifs and their dialog with drone, repetition and loose improvisation, echoes the vast landscapes and almost existential “otherness” captured in the films juxtaposition of traditional western tropes to places and peoples not normally associated with the genre. This slight remove from genre has been a trademark of CARLSON’s approach to guitar and songwriting throughout his career. Whether that is applying the writings of La Monte Young to Black Sabbath sized riffing in Earth’s earliest incarnations or his re-appropriations of country, jazz and folk during its second act.

Across the arc of the album’s twenty-four tracks — designed to be listened to as one suite — CARLSON’s lyrical playing dissolves structures into abstraction, stretching out each repetition until you’re left with only the sound of buzzing or scraped strings. It is an inversion of the work of Earth; stripping away where they would layer. It’s an immersive experience. For the first time CARLSON’s guitar is presented, bare, alone, with only minimal percussion, fore-fronting his evocative, lyrical control of the instrument in a language that transcends tired “cinematic” adjectives and places you directly into the landscape


Dylan Carlson | Everything


"Gold" is a twenty four track release by the main man of drone legends Earth, Dylan Carlson, and his third release under a solo guise in as many years. 

Upon learning that "Gold" is film soundtrack, I couldn’t help but think of Neil Young’s "Dead Man" - imagine this, with maybe a bit less twangy guitar and the lack of samples, and you’re not far off. "Gold" takes the meaning of `stripped back´ to an nth degree; it sounds like it could’ve been recorded on the first four-track you owned, but by no means to the detriment of the music. The sparse, grainy atmosphere is exactly what the music needed here. Along with the lone guitar, the music is occasionally accompanied by a cymbal or a bass drum. 

Carlson’s playing is idiosyncratic and a delight to study/listen to. He plays the guitar in such a beautifully measured way, using the space between the notes, as well as the throbbing reverb, as much as the notes themselves to carry the melody. The tone, at times, lacks the warmth of, say, Earth’s landmark release, "Bees Made Honey in the Lion´s Skull", and exudes a more ghostly, morose vibe. This is very much in fitting with the story of the film that "Gold" accompanies; the ill-fated journey of seven German immigrants across the USA during the Klondike Gold Rush, and far from being overtly sorrowful or menacing, Carlson´s melodic projections are of a more subtle vibe, that takes more than a few listens to uncover.

I have spent much of this year extolling the virtues of Horseback, and at times this release comes close to matching the glory of the formers May release, "Piedmont Apocrypha". Yet unlike the North Carolinians’ release, perhaps the lack of much more than a solitary guitar will deter listeners looking for something more full-bodied.

However it is nonetheless a compelling record, from Gold I all the way to Gold XXIV. 

Words by: Jack Taylor

You can pick up a copy here

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