“Earth are playing in a church in Brighton!“; this statement was pretty much all I needed to hear to get on the phone to Southern Records, and make sure that I was definitely at this show. There’s always a sense of excitement when Earth are in town; which is ironic as they are one of the the least ‘get up and go’ sounding bands in known history. But this is Brighton, a town known for it’s embrace of all things alternative, and did I mention before? It’s in a frickin’ church!
One thing that always strikes me about about Earth, is it’s really hard to pin down what it is that resonates with people when they engage in a live setting with these kings of epic-drone. I mean, technically, Earth shouldn’t be as absorbing as they tend to be…not really. However, they are; and I think it’s because, historically, they have always known the maths behind presenting themselves in a live setting. The equation is something like: perfect performance + volume = great show.
Earth have been around for a long time now, 20 years to be exact, and have evolved more than the Yucca Moth! The earliest release ‘Earth 2‘, sees the band in a kind of nightmarish sludge-come-psychedelic-mine-field. Three epic tracks, edited together into one monolithic masterpiece. In this period of their existence, they really set the standard for their offspring, such as the now legendary SUNN O)), and the excellent Burning Witch. A few low-key releases later, including an amazing live record, and Earth pretty much dropped off the globe. Now, this is most probably due to Mr Carlson’s heroin habit, and the loss of a certain best friend to a shotgun blast. But, the band did re-emerge, and blew us fans of slow-droney-pleasure away with their comeback album of 2005, ‘Hex: or Printing in the Infernal Method‘.
‘Hex’ really showcased a refreshed, more controlled and stripped bare Earth. You almost get the impression that Carlson’s original sound of the sludgy-apocalypse was being handled so well by his Southern Lord apprentices, that he felt the urge to carve out a new approach for his latest incarnation of the band. Pitch-perfect, chorus-soaked cleanliness, replaced the once sludge-infested wasteland of old. Each record since has been a bleak, yet mesmerising and hypnotic masterpiece, where ‘Deadman-esque’ guitars meet atmospheric keys and sinister, yet perfectly delivered rhythm.
Tonight, we are treated to slices of both ‘Hex’, and the bands latest full-length offering ‘The Bee’s made Honey in the Lions Skull‘, as well as an insight into their next record, a “as yet unnamed new song”, which according to Carlson still needed to “go through the usual selection process, you know, surveys, focus-groups” before it is christened. The normal atmospheric intensity of an Earth show is even greater tonight, as we’re on ‘holy-ground’. This is Possibly the best thing to happen to a church since Count Grishnackh, and certainly far more interesting than, what I expect, are pretty dull services droned more monotonously than anything available on the most obscure swedish ‘art label’. As I alluded to earlier, watching this stuff shouldn’t be as entertaining as it is, yet as always at an Earth show, I feel drawn in and compelled to just stare in awe, even when a trombone is whipped out and used to great effect.
All in all, tonight was a great show, a perfect setting for the band, a stroke of genius that has to be accredited to the head-honcho Colin of Tatty Seaside Town gig-fame (next show is Melt Bannana!). My only very minor gripe was the lack of insane volume that I’ve come to expect from an Earth show, however, this was probably my fault as I was perched at the back of the venue, and it’s a church…