First of all, my apologies for the lack of reviews lately. Illness, houseguests, a ceiling leaking in 4 places and general school/work business have been keeping me, well, busy. Anyway, gonna work a bit harder to keep the site current. Now on to the show...
I can tell you one thing I thought I’d never see again and that is a new (as in current) tape in shrink wrap. And well, thanks to Fan Death I have seen it and even touched it. Locrian’s work both soundwise and visually is known for a certain professionalism and blackened elegance and Rain of Ashes, capturing a live performance on WMUC this past summer, continues their hit streak.
I haven’t had the fortune of seeing these guys live yet but if all the live recordings I’ve heard are any indication, and I assume they are, Locrian’s live show is quite an experience. Rain of Ashes starts up with a barely there drone which is slowly modulated by a searing, sustained guitar lead. The track slowly peels open with layers of subtle melodies. Some way into the tape a low guitar melody materializes and it’s very simple but a sweetly melodic counterpoint to the colder drones radiating elsewhere. The organ follows suit with a descending melody of its own that the guitar quickly picks up on. It becomes apparent just how psychically connected these guys must be to pull this stuff off live. There’s always been an underlying beauty to Locrian’s music but in this piece they push it out there front and center, expanding that organ melody into a lovely fugue. What’s more is that the guys perform a slo-mo obliteration of that little section. Unstable guitar tones and quaking bass frequencies attempt to usurp control and swallow that bit of beauty up whole. They don’t succeed which is good for me cause I quite liked that melody, though it doesn’t last forever. White noise and a solitary guitar playing a lonesome melody duet for a little while afterward. The tempo and volume increase slightly giving it a surprisingly rock vibe. This fades into a slightly more uneasy section, once again based around a guitar melody. A bolt of distortion builds intensity and the piece swells into a mild crescendo of swirling feedback that gets stormier by the minute, ending with something sounding like the wind blowing through a Metal Zone. It’s a really strange, non-linear journey but a good one.
One of the coolest things about the tape is instead of doing the standard double A-side tape, the piece plays out in reverse on the second side, making it possible to ride this thing continuously if you so choose. Even cooler is the track sounds really awesome in reverse. Since Locrian mostly uses sounds with slow attack, the piece doesn’t exactly sound reversed most of the time. Or at least not in a distracting way. It’s re-contextualized and strangely familiar but not quite the same. More bonus points go to the inspired backwards printing of the label on the first side of the tape on the B-side. Hell of a job by Fan Death and a hell of a job by Locrian.