Friday, December 3, 2010


Southern Lord, 2010; available

7 tracks, 55:05

Earth's masterpiece, EARTH 2, was one of my earliest reviews on this blog. This handy Southern Lord release collects Earth's out-of-print debut EP EXTRA-CAPSULAR EXTRACTION and also includes the other four tracks recorded during that session (these four tracks have been on various legit and bootleg releases over the years). For these tunes, Earth was guitarist/main member Dylan Carlson, bassist Dave Harwell (who was also Carlson's sideman on EARTH 2), and bassist/drum machine operator Joe Preston (later of Melvins and Thrones). Guest vocalists Kurt Cobain (!) and Kelly Canary appear on two tracks, but otherwise it's all instrumental. The session occurred in October of 1990; a year later, Sub Pop released the first three tracks as the debut EP. Clocking in at just under thirty-three minutes, these songs were extremely unique for the time. Taking the Melvins/Black Sabbath/Saint Vitus slow-and-heavy vibe to the next level, Earth did away with hooks and instead focused on the sheer power of amplifiers being pushed to the limit. Only Godflesh was working in truly similar territory, and they were nowhere near as minimal (or compelling) as Earth! "A Bureaucratic Desire For Revenge" was split into two parts. The first is a crushing instrumental, while the second features Carlson and Cobain's drone vocals and some truly frightening shrieks from Canary. "Ouroboros Is Broken", at eighteen minutes, was the first real indication of where Earth would end up. The chugging riff is reduced to one repeated phrase; when the drum machine leaves the mix, all that remains is buzz, hum, and that "riff". The remaining four tracks are no less impressive; the lurching "Geometry Of Murder" finds Earth at their most Godflesh-esque, while "German Dental Work" is amplifier noise and the drum machine. Final track "Dissolution 1" (yes, there were other "Dissolutions" down the line) is in similar territory, and all three should have been released at the time. The standout, surprisingly, is the compartively brief "Divine And Bright". This song is the most traditional, featuring Cobain's stoned vocals and Canary's painful screams (I wonder if she ever had to have corrective surgery; her work with Dickless was even HARSHER than this!). Being Earth, it makes sense that this was, in Carlson's words, "a love song written to the H-bomb"! While it's perhaps not as singular as EARTH 2, the material contained on this disc is every bit as vital to understanding how drone metal became so inspirational. It only makes sense that Southern Lord reissued this material, as most of their acts are in debt to Earth's innovations (which doesn't mean you should ignore those artists; most of them are amazing!). The songs have been remastered, so upgrading from EXTRA-CAPSULAR EXTRACTION to this wouldn't be a bad investment. After this, Preston would leave for Melvins, and Carlson would ditch the percussion as well. EARTH 2 is definitely the best place to start, but the timid may want to begin their exploration of Earth and drone metal here.

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