Concrete Desert

Concrete Desert

by EarthEarth


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These two names on a recording offer -- at least initially -- a startling juxtaposition. There's the Bug (aka Kevin Martin), king of compressed, signature bone-breaking beats that emerge from crushing mutant dancehall, grime, and twisted iconic dubstep; his is a signature sound created from crackle, crunch, and crush. Dylan Carlson's Earth -- of which he is the only constant member -- began as an ultraheavy, low-tuned metal drone outfit whose worship of microphonics and Black Sabbath-ian riffing made them icons. After two decades, they mutated, their sound becoming a spacious subgenre known as "ambient metal" that ever so slowly and deliberately explored aural cave dwelling in tone, timbre, harmonic, and dynamic before finding a middle ground that reintegrated some of their formerly doomy heaviness into the haunted spaces they discovered. Concrete Desert, recorded in Los Angeles, is worthy of its moniker. There's a classic noir-ish vibe worthy of that city, as tracks offer haunting titles such as "City of Fallen Angels," "Don't Walk These Streets," "Gasoline," and "Agoraphobia." Almost all selections commence with Carlson offering dark, airy guitar and bass drones. Martin responds by adding often brittle beats that assist in creating a turnstile for this music to emerge from. When they commingle, squalling white noise, fragmented ambience, fractured polyrhythms, and prismatic feedback create atmospheres for suffocation. Monster bass loops can punctate the din, creating ever expanding layers of tension without respite. Its oscillations -- between hazy, dirgey riffs and looped, paranoia-inducing, lowrider subs -- deliver a thick, sludgy, 21st century kind of "bass music." "Snakes vs. Rats" is a jaw clencher, with its buzzy, hissing, bubbling bass and feedback machine-gun-fire snare layers, as the guitars sear the seams. The ten-minute-plus "American Dream -- the album's hinge -- is a mini soundtrack of black waft, bass string drone, and hinted-at fragmental melodies sans rhythm tracks. "Hell A" and the title cut are mirror images of one another as tension builds, semi-releases, and then ratchets up slowly until it resolves in nerve-shattering dread. Concrete Desert is far from relaxing, but chances are you already gathered that. While it is effective, at nearly 70 minutes, it's better digested in small doses to better distinguish the multiplicity of textural, dynamic, and sonic strategies at work in individual pieces.

Product Details

Release Date: 03/24/2017
Label: Ninja Tune
UPC: 5054429006070
catalogNumber: 239
Rank: 144920

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