Friday 7 August 2015

Locrian - 'Infinite Dissolution' (Album Review)

By: James Harris

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released:  24/07/2015
Label: Relapse Records

‘Standout track ‘An Index of Air’ leans into emptiness with a rattling drone, an almost imperceptibly off-time drum pulsing the intro before expanding out into tidal-waves of anguished convulsions blended with blissed out droning black that Deafheaven would burn gasoline-soaked churches to attain.’

‘Infinite Dissolution’ CD//DD//LP track listing:

1). Act of Extinction
2). Dark Shales
3). KXL I
4). The Future of Death
5). An Index of Air
6). KXL II
7). The Great Dying
8). Heavy Water

Locrian is:

André Foisy | Guitars, Electronics, Piano
Terence Hannum | Vocals, Moog Little Phatty, Moog Minitaur, Moog Source, MicroKorg, Arp Avatar, EDP Wasp, Mellotron M400, Samples
Steven Hess | Drums, Percussion, and Electronics

The Review:

I'll get this out of the way first; this will be my album of the year. I'm calling it in August. There are louder bands, heavier bands, faster and slower, more blackened bands, but this may as well be a recording of a howling void on peyote for all the quiet moments resemble anything like peace or tranquillity. There is very little human to be found. Even the "musical" moments are haunting and alien, evoking sonic waves of blackness and fire reminiscent of the oil that gives the album its structure. At the risk of utilizing a little Black Metal Theory (I can hear the Liturgy-fueled groans already), I admit this review may be a bit more esoteric than my others! A thick viscous plague of rotted history condensed into an enveloping flow of unrelenting black fucking metal cleverly disguised as something very much post-, complete with moments of otherworldly beauty - this time scorched into soot.

A group known as much for drone and soundscape as their metal, Chicago's Locrian return from the grave again with yet another monumental work, ‘Infinite Dissolution’. A hallmark of their sound, that it's somewhat difficult to easily separate the tracks of a record, is as present as ever. The songs are clearly defined and have beginnings and endings, but they flow into each other, overlap, repeat themes, and maintain a cohesive wall of sound and perfect production continuity throughout. This is the album Lantlos would have made if they were secretly Darkspace. 

Beginning with a fuzzy, hollow thundering that builds in speed before the godless vocals of Terence Hannum synchronize the twitching lurching stomp, deafening blasts beat a "so fast it seems slow"  pattern under the warping contortions of Andre Foisy's guitar on opener ‘Arc of Extinction’. The second track's title, ‘Dark Shales’ turns the oily hinting of the record into an overt statement on fossil-fueled meltdown - even this near ambient interlude reeks of putrefaction, of someone surfacing from the muck only to be broken by witnessing the world on fire. 

"Nemesis in our Soil 
Our Air 
Our Water"
(‘Dark Shales’)

A triptych of songs titled ‘KXL 1-3’ confirms this blackened blazing source as oil, referring to the infamous and controversial midwestern US pipeline from Canadian tar sands to gulf ports. In his epic ‘Cyclonopedia’ (to which this album could serve as exceptionally appropriate soundtrack) Reza Negarestani writes "[oil] is the lubricant current or tellurian flux upon which everything is mobilized in the direction of submission to a desert where no idol can be erected and all elevations must be burned down" - an infinite dissolution in(to) blackness that Islam would consider sinking into the heart of God.

The lyrics as always are extremely minimalistic and barely audible, shrieking that these "crude formations" are "vexed to nightmares." The atmosphere is viciously thick and claustrophobic while simultaneously somehow being vast and open, playing oil's liquid-vapor-desert game to a (black-gold-texas-) T.  Black liquid metallics melt into ether, this hypertoxic pollution recombining in the atmosphere into new burning hydrocarbon structures, then repeating this back and forth cycle over and over as if to drill home the infinitude of their dissolution. Drums and melody are found in abundance, but they rarely come anywhere near a traditional sound, preferring instead to lurk around the edges, vaporizing and reforming around recurrent themes of oil-soaked drowning and solar heat death blurring the ends of everything.

Standout track ‘An Index of Air’ leans into this emptiness with a rattling drone, an almost imperceptibly off-time drum pulsing the intro before expanding out into tidal-waves of anguished convulsions blended with blissed out droning black that Deafheaven would burn gasoline-soaked churches to attain. The only thing resembling 'clean' singing is found on this track, though they are yet more examples of bleak nihilism, knife-twisting the thought that air could be a refuge from this swamping hellscape into the realization that even the air is in "full collapse." Again a passage from Cyclonopedia becomes eerily relatable: "saturated by this timeless desert of Qiyamah (Islam's permanent apocalypse of the Now) is the cancellation of Western time", seeming to share Locrian's idea that oil as a demon has already been fully released, and now we live in the end times. In their music, the human is forever on the verge of being engulfed in this oily outer/inner space - and that may be all we have left. 

"Behold the Blank Gaze 
Of this chasm 
It Reveals the Great Dying 
Legacy of Dust 
and of Crystal 
It's a Blight"
(‘The Great Dying’)

‘Infinite Dissolution’ is available here.  More stellar art by genius David Altmedj can be view here

Band info: Facebook | Bandcamp