Sunday, May 13, 2012

Century Plants/Locrian - Dissolvers [Tape Drift]

I'm a real heel as I've been sitting on this stellar split LP for a while. But there's no better time than now to rectify past ills.
This record is such a perfect pairing. Tape Drift mainman Eric Hardiman performed his A&R role immaculately here. Century Plants, a guitar-based duo of Hardiman (Rambutan) and Ray Hare (Fossils from the Sun) and Chicago's Locrian, a duo of Andre Foisy and Terence Hannum joined here by Jeremy Lemos, don't sound the same; each side of the record has distinct features. Yet, Dissolvers almost feels like an album. It feels like two sets of minds providing their respective versions of a shared concept. That concept is dynamic, restrained and more than a little on the dark side.
Century Plants draw first blood. "Fading Out" lives its first minute in near silence with quiet humming tones making promises of solemn vibes to come. They move forward with one guitar exuding abstract hisses and crashes while another plays a surprisingly, dare I say it, normal part. Ray drops in a Suicide-esque vocal exhalation in the sea of whirring, occasionally scraping frequencies and sparse guitar notes. It happens subtly but near the end of the piece the mix is noticeably denser and a pretty little guitar part nestles in over top. By the end "Fading Out" achieves a well-earned stasis which is unusually calming with a darker palette such as this.
"Delirium's" long drones are met with warbly squelch and a few tastefully wahwah'd phrases. Ray and Eric keep things pretty close to the vest until the second half. A buzzing guitar carpets the track in static while a second guitar provides a perfect melodic counterpoint. Ray's sporadic grunts provide only fleeting release in the simmering substratum of guitar and electronics. This section is probably the highest point of the side as its full of activity, full of potential energy but comes off as tense yet utterly fastidious and ultimately penetrating.
Flipping the record over...
With "On a Calcified Shore" Locrian tickles you with a sine tone before slipping into some of that signature controlled feedback, unfurling a patient two-note melody. Lower frequencies bristle underneath while Andre Foisy's guitar delivers echoing squawks. The whole piece sounds as if it's teetering on the edge. I think it's Terence Hannum's organ that develops a simple, elegant melody in the second half, anchoring the careful layers of Foisy's guitar feedback. Mellow oscillations putter around amongst the tones leading to an elegiac snuffing of the candle.
The intro to "Omega Vapors" never fails to shiver my spine each time I hear it. There is something special about the consonant, stepping organ melody. The tones feel like their walking delicately down my back. It's the strangest sensation and incredibly captivating. Foisy brings forth skittering, delay-riddled guitar notes which provide as much of a rhythmic drive as a melodic one. Near the end of the piece Locrian is as close to catharsis as they get on their side with a mildly violent guitar tantrum. Ever so gradually "Omega Vapors" grinds to a halt on deep synth drones.
This is some vintage Locrian stuff and among their most controlled and spacious. They introduce only a handful of elements each track, but each is perfectly placed and deliciously potent. There for you to ingest.
Couple the sounds with well-thought out, classy packaging and you've got yourself a slowburner of the highest order. Currently still in print at the label but may not be for long.

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