Metal, in all its many varieties, isn't a real part of my listening regimen. I like some of it fine, but it's not something I follow too closely or play at home. So I'm still not sure why people better acquainted with the scene classify Chicago duo Locrian (Andre Foisy and Terence Hannum) as any kind of metal at all.
I first heard about Locrian from Jeremy Bushnell of Rebis Records a couple of years ago, when I was writing a story about the flood of drone projects emerging from Chicago, but I didn't actually get around to hearing them until recently. There's certainly an element of drone in Locrian's music: a steady, rippling hum, produced by a combo of synth, organ, and other electronics, throbs in the background of almost every track. But just as or more important is the guitar action in the foreground. Sometimes the extended lines are skittery and gnarled, and at other times they groan and moan in slow, winding arcs; often the band forgoes the explosive stompbox treatment that seems customary in metal.
Certain pieces are darkly meditative, others claustrophobic, and still others harrowing and cathartic. Locrian have demonstrated an impressive sonic range and curiosity; instead of obsessing microscopically over a single kind of sound, they mix things up, and everything I've heard feels equally committed. Even the occasional mountain-man vocal howls, which to my ears are a bit out of place, are deployed in a way that's Locrian's own.
The duo recently released Drenched Lands (At War With False Noise/Small Doses), their most varied outing yet. There's the brittle, muffled melodicism of the brief opener, "Obsolete Elegy in Effluvia and Dross," the postindustrial feedback and synth drone of "Ghost Repeater," the hoarse, demonic screams and coiled tension of "Barren Temple Obscured by Contaminated Fogs," the blend of ethereality, hypnosis, and turbulence on "Epicedium," and the alternatingly lacerating and chugging guitar noise, soothing synth beds, and submerged lamentations of "Obsolete Elegy in Lost Concrete." (On second thought, I guess those song titles are a pretty clear cue to file these guys under "metal.") The CD also includes the entire 30 minutes of "Greyfield Shrines," previously released last year on vinyl.
Joel Harrison, The Wheel (Innova)
Theoretical Girls, Theoretical Girls (Acute)
Masayuki Takayanagi, Live at Taro (Jinya Disc)
Various artists, Shbahoth: Iraqi-Jewish Song From the 1920s (Renair)
Puttin' on the Ritz, Bangin' Your Way Into the Future (Hot Cup)