Despite forming in 1990, 2012 marks the first year that experimental drone doom specialists Earth have ventured to Australia and New Zealand.
Going through countless line-up changes throughout their career, band leader and guitarist Dylan Carlson settled on a three piece for their show at Fowlers Live last Friday to play a set made up predominantly of material recorded since reappearing on the scene in 2005.
Six-piece support Burning Sea offered a far more forceful and metal-based version of the type of sounds that Earth mined. The comparatively heavier band were great for expending as much energy as possible before the more repetitive, sinister and droning restraint that was to come.
With dim lighting, the intense set contained some pretty huge sounding moments made up of reverberating bass chords and overdriven arpeggios. Although it would have been nice to hear the keyboards utilised more to stretch the band’s guitar-based sound, their confidence and assuredness on stage was pleasing to see from a local act.
Depending on your company, time between sets at a gig can tend to be a bit tedious. After Burning Sea, the entire 37-minute “Black Unity” by jazz saxophonist Pharoah Sanders begun to play as house music, which was a great choice. A pretty intense piece, it was the perfect build up to the more monotonous, sustained music that was to come and really brought to attention how underutilised house music is to create mood and build suspense.
The decent sized crowd was a great cross-section of music lovers age-wise, even if a little male dominated. With everyone beginning to crowd around the front of stage and Sanders’ piece winding up, the Seattle three-piece came on with an unassuming entrance.
Carlson calmly talked for a bit and then kicked off the show with new song “Badger”, and “Old Black” off of their 2011 album Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I. He announced “Bees Made Honey In The Lions Skull” to cheers from the crowd, and then jumped into a medley consisting of new pieces as well as “The Corascene Dog” amongst others.
Carlson joked ‘this is the difficult part of the set – the hits will come after’. “Ouroboros Is Broken” – the first song Carlson ever wrote for the band – didn’t crack any top 40s around the world, but it certainly got a great reaction from the crowd, with the band closing with “Tallahassee”.
Just like that, after an hour and twenty minutes, the band abruptly left the stage with no encore. It felt oddly fitting given the way the band’s slow and haunting music often seemed to stretch time.
Other than for taking photos, there was not one phone to be seen throughout the whole show. While this was surprising considering the Adelaide Crows’ semi-final was taking place only 12 kilometres away, the band had the crowd so hypnotised with their repetitious and lengthy post-rock that they were only pulled out upon the band leaving the stage.
A mesmerising show from beginning to end, it was a testament to how interesting and thrilling a sparse setup of guitar, bass and drums can still be when handled by veterans who have their craft mastered.
– Wyatt Lawton-Masi