By the time the restrained apocalypse of 'Ourboros is Broken' marches out of view, Dylan Carlson and Earth have made this post-industrial nook the centre of their pyramid. An Earth gig is an hour's ticket out of the human race and the tyranny of Greenwich Mean Time. They rock even harder because they eschew showy sensationalism in favour of drawn-out intensity and sparse ambiance.
Islington Mill sits in the middle of Salford's high-rise concrete, a relic of the cotton industry colonised by creative enterprise. We pop outside for a snout and canvas pop-art portraits stare out from the weathered walls. Beside the benches of this impromptu beer garden sits a shopping trolley full of rubble and an empty strawberry punnet alongside what HB describes as a “giant bobbin.” Has all this detritus been discarded or meticulously placed in the name of art? The place is certainly a breath of fresh air in the homogenised world of city music venues.
The gig room is an intimate lounge affair under an arched brick roof. Some punters sit in front of the stage to breathe in the fumes. A pleasantly baked fellow in a poncho sways purposefully in front of us, while drone-ophiles of all ages look on, nodding and slack-jawed. Lori Goldston's keening cello exploration leads straight into Earth's set. They exhibit heavily the splendid new album “Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I.” Carlson turns toward the drum riser to initiate subtle changes in dynamic, and there is an almost telepathic understanding of each journey between him and the girls in the rhythm section, the band entranced, giving in to the force of the music. “Old Black” is particularly sublime. The guitar rumbles, sighs and roars with deft manipulation; there is not an over-reliance on effects or extremes of noise. Great feeling can come from the instrument by playing it less.
Single colours bathe the stage intermittently: red to green, green to blue, and blue to white. “Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull” is at once barren and bleak yet dense, like Sabbath channeling Link Wray in the Nevada Desert. “Multiplicity of Doors” from the forthcoming 'Angels...' follow-up pares the sound down even further. My only complaint from tonight stems from my dangerous enthusiasm for sheer volume, and I could have lived with a little more juice. But this was a transcendent evening of instrumental weightiness, a completely different experience to any gig in recent memory.
Posted: Sun 3 April 2011