It makes a lot of sense to think that Dylan Carlson is at the sweetest point of his recent career at the head of the Earth project. Maybe this is because he has found a group that fully meets his needs - drummer Adrienne Davis, cellist Lori Goldston, and bass player Karl Blau - or maybe it’s because his creative maturity is at just the right cooking temperature, or maybe even because the growing recognition of his work in recent years allows him to operate with more confidence and peace of mind than ever. Who knows? In any case, “Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light”- the second volume of which has just gone on sale, a few months after the first did - contributes to this feeling of a state of grace with which the group is feeding their recordings.
One can tell that the five pieces included in this second part were recorded in the same session as the first; as they share the same tone, the same sound direction, and the same resources — the relationship is close and explicit. And it is difficult to differentiate them: they could make up a single album and it would be perfectly coherent. But once immersed in the comparison, one does notice an effort to experiment with forms and to partake more effusively of that expressive freedom in the recording studio in “Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light II”. “Sigil Of Brass” and “His Teeth Did Brightly Shine,” the two first tracks, are especially noteworthy in this sense: in them, Carlson does without the rhythmic base of the band to play with his guitar alone, in two passionate inserts of desolate, borderline blues showing an instrumental austerity and nudity that is hard to find in his own discourse, and which make an interesting testing ground.
The three remaining songs return to the usual format, but with some nuances. For example, “A Multiplicity Of Doors” puts the group closer than ever to Dirty Three, and I can think of few words of praise that could be better for a band that started its career within the confines of doom, and which is now capable of shifting its discourse towards much more expansive, elaborate positions. Then “The Corascende Dog” and “The Rakehell” finish off this double-headed project, with the side of Earth that is more recognisable and representative (also of the first part of this series of two episodes). Relaxed improvisation, without rushing or outside pressure, in the hands of four musicians well suited to each other. They have unquestionably managed to naturally, progressively integrate blues and other outside sound currents within the framework of their comatose, enduring rock.
“The Corascene Dog”