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Earth Made Honey In My Skull....,
This review is from: Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull (Audio CD)
If Earth's previous album; Hex, was the wounded, lone rider slumped across his mule's back trudging off into the sunset in a barren 1930s American dustbowl; The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull is the sun rising with the rider long gone and the first new shoots of grass are escaping the ground.
There is a majestic uplifting hopefulness in these recordings compared to the stark, sombreness of Hex. It's a masterful evolution for Dylan Carlson's Earth and `The Bees...' has proven to be one of the most exciting and eagerly anticipated releases of 2008 so far.
The tracks are far more structured and cohesive this time around and more varied; not a whole lot, but just enough for this album to capture and idefinitely keep your attention. It's obvious the songs are intricately crafted and layered, Carlson's countrified Telecaster twang being the hub by which every other instrument is guided. The only hint of virtuosity is when Bill Frisell appears on three tracks providing complimentary psychedelic, fuzzy guitar lines.
Adrienne Davies' steady drumming is very understated here and merely provides a backbone to the chiming and interleaving guitar and piano lines. Her drumming is essential to Earth's vibe; it's ofter hard to overlook and take for granted how hard it is to drum so slowly and with infinite restraint. Don McGreevey's bass is also an essential aspect to the band's overall sound yet is so subtle and restrained it's easy to forget that underpinning warmth is actually there. Though you'd miss it if it werent. All of this points to how much a band effort this is and how well the tracks are composed.
The production is also fantastic. It's an incredibly warm sounding album as opposed to Hex's stark coldness. Yet it's not polished by any means; any studio trickery and sheen would render the album sterile.
Plus Arik Roper and Seldon Hunt's artwork make this definitely something special to get hold of rather than to download.
This is by no means a perfect album however; it's one dimentional pace will likely test some people's patience and the fact that there is no vocals or virtuoso instrumentation; blistering solos and the like, gives the album a sameness and you'd be an obsessive listener indeed if you could name each track if put on random.
These songs were also undoubtedly meant to be experienced live; I was fortunate to see these songs at All Tomorrow's Parties festival before the album came out and I have to say the vibe Earth created through these tracks in a live setting was unparalleled and I was slightly disappointed the album recordings couldn't quite live up to the experience.
So, however brilliant The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull is, it is not perfect; go and see these guys live.
I expect perfection to come from Earth's next evolutionary step!