Having witnessed Dylan Carlson as a solo act earlier in the year, observing the limitations he had in many respects (one man – one guitar), I had great anticipation for the Drone-Master-General’s return, this time with both a band at his disposal and material that would hopefully be the best in his present musical catalogue. Assisted by a drummer and what I presume is a bass player, he plods through cuts from his latest LP, the indicative of wasabi nut consumption titled, Full Upon Her Burning Lips. As expected, their set consists entirely of instrumentals slow in pace and rich in repetition; envision a town drunk crawling slowly toward/within a desolate landscape (steppe, plain, office cubicles), with mild rainfall complimenting the difficulty faced by this made up individual in this made up scenario (and you will hopefully grasp what I am explaining).

While the guitar-ambient approach was guaranteed and appreciated to an extent, in many places the set starts to sound a little tired as the rhythm section’s spacious, guitar-servitude approach doesn’t elevate the sound into anything more intimidating than remembering to shove some foam into the sensory area known as your ears.

Understandably, Earth’s style has always favoured a minimal, sluggish approach with elements of other genres seeped in, yet to me it has become apparent they have been eclipsed by one of the very bands they influenced, the nefarious Sunn O))). Having covered them only weeks ago, it’s blatantly obvious who’s pushing the boundaries of innovation in this niche we know only as Drone (it’s not Earth). The mystic and resonance of Sunn O)))’s experimentalism (recall the trumpets?) appear lost on Earth’s direct approach; Carlson’s need to awkwardly introduce each song as if it were a contestant on a rather strange, poorly lit variety show hints to me that the previously unseen, instrumental wing of the ‘Flat Earth’ conspiracy isn’t dead after all.

Then again, I don’t want to blanket the entire show in negativity as some of their pieces stood the test of judgement, particularly ‘Descending Belladonna’ in its loop of depressing chord progressions that tie in with my earlier, end of first paragraph analogy. Although they may not have lived up to expectation and induced a degree of boredom on myself (and friends), at the very least the climax had an intensity that highlights the potential this band still has, three decades after its founding. Rearranging the set list for the sake of fluidity and shaking off the almost static feel of the band’s live presence would most certainly put them on the path to reclaiming the throne of… the five letter word that rhymes with cone/used twice within this particular article.

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Angus Rolland

Recent career decisions have compelled me into the journalistic... thing; I could list my literary influences or even debate which 3rd rate beverage has the best economic value per litre (But I won’t). Oh, in addition, I write reviews for the Independents Network.