Sunday, December 18, 2011

Best of 2011 (eps) #1 LOCRIAN - Dort Ist Der Weg/Frozen in Ash (Flingco Sound)

Technically a 7" release, this is one of the finest releases in any format that I heard all year. What follows is my original long form review:

Attempting to cover Popol Vuh is a particularly treacherous venture. To begin with you are trespassing on hallowed ground. There is simply not much you can do to improve on Popol Vuh at their best. They are legends for a reason. Furthermore, their brand of experimental krautrock doesn't exactly reduce itself to amped-up easy covers of their songs. No one gains anything from knocking out a Popul Vuh cover live or otherwise. Yet, despite all odds, Locrian not only covers Popol Vuh's "Dort Ist Der Weg" successfully, they knock it way the hell out of the ballpark. Adding more than a touch of beefed-up sonics, Locrian maintains the spaciousness of Popol Vuh's original, but turn in a heavier and darker take on the piece. Admittedly, the band sounds less like Locrian, and more like a mixture of Slint and Amon Düül II initially, but by the end of the piece, once the dissonance and screeches take over, you'll remember that you are listening to a Locrian recording, and a very fine one at that. If anything it calls to mind the psychedelic blues metal of fellow traveller Horseback, who the band recently collaborated with on the spectacular "New Dominions" LP.

Side two is a Locrian original and one of their finest at that. "Frozen in Ash" is a blasted drone that owes far more to Xasthur than krautrock. Built on a guitar progression that calls to mind classic Norwegian black metal, the piece gets nastier and noisier as it plays out before dissolving into a brooding apocalyptic folk coda of piano and acoustic guitar before drummer Steven Hess shuts it all down with a galloping snare.

Taken as a whole this is Locrian at their most epic, and it is hard to believe that a simple 7" can contain such a massive statement in sound. Although combined these tracks make up a mere twelve minutes and thirty-five seconds, this feels like a proper album, if only because of the emotional and sonic ground covered. Few, if any, bands could achieve what Locrian have achieved here. Successful Popol Vuh cover aside, the real accomplishment is a recording that contains more variety and depth in less than a quarter hour than most bands can produce in an entire career.

Locrian "Dort ist der Weg/ Frozen in Ash 7" single" by flingco

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