Thrones and Dominions
August 3, 2011 4:01 PM   Subscribe

Earth, formed in 1989 by Dylan Carlson, are pioneers of the modern drone metal movement.

After a seven year period of inactivity following the release of Pentastar, In the Style of Demons Earth reformed in 2003 and the album Hex came out in 2005.

Earth's output transformed under the influences of Cormac Mccarthy's Blood Meridian, Neil Young's Dead Man soundtrack, and other influences evocative of the mystical West to a more contemplative, repetitive, and folk-oriented (but still heavy) sound on The Bees Made Honey In the Lion's Skull.

The most recent release, Angels of Darkness Demons of Light I, continues in this direction and includes a 20 minute long improvised track.

While recording Angels of Darkness Demons of Light I Dylan Carlson was diagnosed with Hepatitis B and liver damage. The resulting health problems may mean that this year's tour supported by drummer and longtime partner Adrienne Davies, Lori Goldston on cello and Angelina Baldoz on guitar may be Earth's last.

"I think music is important, especially instrumental music. I view it as the original technology of man, and that the magic continues."
posted by beefetish (20 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
Oh crap, I didn't know about his ill health.

Like Swans, they're a band that has changed styles, but always retained their power.

Their earlier drone stuff is great too, and formed the inspiration/template for Sunn O)))
posted by spectrevsrector at 4:14 PM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

That's a real bummer to hear Earth may not be touring much more. As anyone who has seen the documentary Kurt and Courtney can attest, it's kind of amazing dude is still alive at all.

I guess my big Dylan Carlson story involves writing Sub>Pop many years ago to ask what he was up to (this was after Cobain had died, and during the hiatus mentioned in the post). The reply? "Whatever the written equivalent of shrugging is, insert here".

I'm so glad he bounced back from his addiction, and continued to put out great album after great album (if you liked Hex, check out Live Hex); the guy has forged so many new paths for music, birthed so many styles, given a career to so many inferior talents (see *ahem* above), and he seems to want to constantly change up his sound, which makes being a listener a continually exciting adventure. The next album, for instance, is entirely improvised.
posted by stinkycheese at 4:37 PM on August 3, 2011

Great to see your post not 24 hours after my debut Earth show at Seattle's Tractor Tavern. Given the much appreciated context, I feel fortunate to have seen them live. Their performance was transfixing.
posted by prinado at 4:43 PM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

I said this in the deleted thread, but I missed their LA show and regret it now that I know about his ill health. And their album Hex is incredible.
posted by Bookhouse at 5:07 PM on August 3, 2011

When I lived in Seattle in the early 90s, I worked at a record store (Cellophane Square on NE 42nd) that bought and sold a lot of used records and CDs. Around this time, and for reasons I never figured out, Dylan Carlson decided to sell off a bunch of his collection. As I was the only one working at the store who was into obscure noise bands, I was usually the one called on to buy his stuff. I got to know him a tiny bit in the way that two people whose entire interaction centers on buying and selling music that no one else listens to might. He always struck me as an extremely nice and thoughtful guy, with an incredibly eclectic and wide-ranging taste in music. I was sorry when he stopped coming around, around the same time he became known as the guy who bought the shotgun for Kurt. Somewhere, in a dusty crate in the basement, I have a bunch of Dylan's old Can and Whitehouse records...
posted by googly at 5:29 PM on August 3, 2011 [2 favorites]

They're playing my town next month. I will be there. The Bees Made Honey In The Lion's Skull is one of my most-listened-to records of the past five years. Gorgeous, expansive music. I didn't know Carlson was sick. That sucks. OTOH, it's good that he's still alive.

It's interesting how Angels references, but doesn't rely on, English folk music in the same way that Bees references, but doesn't rely on, American folk and country music.

I can't count the number of naps I've taken, books I've read, or paragraphs I've written while Like Gold And Faceted (Spotify link) reverberated through my headphones. It's hypnotic, soothing, mesmerizing, lovely and frightening all at the same time. It's everything melting and annealing. It's a fingertip brushing the surface of a deep, dark pool. It's prayer. It's chant. It's glaciers calving.

And to move from the pure drone of that to the solemn beauty of Miami Morning Coming Down II (Shine) (Spotify link)... just, wow.

One of my very very very favorite bands.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 5:44 PM on August 3, 2011 [3 favorites]

Love this band, it's sad to think of a day when they won't be making new music. Thanks for this post.
posted by Demogorgon at 5:56 PM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Is this the part where I point out that he was the one who gave Cobain the shotgun?
posted by holdkris99 at 6:25 PM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

I thought Earth was, like, 600 yrs old???
posted by maryr at 6:32 PM on August 3, 2011

Earth is my go-to d&d background music. With Turisas held in reserve for particularly juicy combat encounters, of course.
posted by georg_cantor at 6:43 PM on August 3, 2011

Is this the part where I point out that he was the one who gave Cobain the shotgun?

Nope. Now try asking if it's the part where you act like a jerkface.
posted by item at 6:48 PM on August 3, 2011

He's such a lovely fellow as well. Met him twice!

An Earth gig is an experience like nothing else.

Beautiful to see something like this on MetaFilter.
posted by Vrai at 7:10 PM on August 3, 2011

I used to think I did not enjoy music labeled "metal". Earth was one of the bands that convinced me otherwise. Thanks for sharing this.
posted by PueExMachina at 8:29 PM on August 3, 2011

I saw them in a pub in King's Heath, just outside Birmingham, not too long ago. It was a pretty incredible gig. Transfixing is right.

And now I know what I'll be listening to today.
posted by knapah at 2:55 AM on August 4, 2011

Wonderful band. I feel like their music comes from a different world; slower, deeper, more ancient, more real. Bees.

Love it. Thanks for the post.
posted by jet_manifesto at 3:15 AM on August 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

"Earth, formed in 1989..."

Creationist propaganda!

posted by Eideteker at 5:37 AM on August 4, 2011

Love love Earth. Never seen them live, so as long as they are making new music, I will still be happy.

Was he using heroin before?
posted by Theta States at 6:28 AM on August 4, 2011

BitterOldPunk- Glad to know I'm not the only one who both naps and is amazingly productive to the sounds of drone & doom. I wrote my the bulk of my undergrad thesis while plugged into never-ending, teetering-on-the-edge-of-the-abyss drone playlists.

Sad I missed this tour where I am. If only this post was a couple months earlier!
posted by bobobox at 6:45 AM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

this is kinda schmoopy but i'm so glad to see that other people resonate strongly to earth. i feel honored to have caught them live this time around; their music has been there for me during some really rough times and dylan carlson's personal narrative and super thoughtful interviews inspire the living shit out of me. if they end up touring again perhaps we should engage in meetup activities.
posted by beefetish at 1:47 PM on August 4, 2011

wow, just missed a concert. if i'd listened to this first i woulda gone. thanks for showing me the (kinda dark) light. my life's a little better now.
posted by Erroneous at 4:09 PM on August 4, 2011

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