Earth conjure calm and psychedelic warmth on ‘Angels of Darkness’ part two

Relaxation has been tough to come by lately. Really, really tough to grab a hold of and enjoy. That’s not my favorite thing to admit, because I hate having anxiety, and considering the events that have transpired personally for me the past few weeks, being able to sit and zone is most welcome.

I know folks turn to various medicinal means in order to combat stretch runs such as these, and I totally get where those folks are coming from, but I try not to mask what I’m feeling. Instead, I want to understand it and deal, so when I can step away from the madness and let my mind rest, I know that I’m not doing anything artificial just to hold off things for a while. Having music that’ll let each cell, muscle, and organ rest is key. It’s great to have something that’ll soothe your mind and let you drift off for a bit just so you can recharge your battered batteries. For me, one of the bands I normally turn to is Earth, the drone masters who are enjoying quite a career revitalization over the past decade. As most know, the band totally transformed from their burlier, heavier early years and transformed into a dusty, psychedelic, blues-embracing machine, lead steadily by founding member Dylan Carlson, whose guitar work can light a fire under you and ease your pain all within the same song.

So, being entrenched in a particularly stressful period, it’s given me even more reason to get acquainted with “Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II,” the second chapter of a journey they kicked off last with the first part. I think I mentioned this on the site before, but I was on the shore of Rehoboth Beach this August when an earthquake struck, and playing on my iPod at the time was “Descent to Zenith” from “Angels I.” Always found that very fitting. Anyhow, “Angels II” was recorded in the same span at the first part, though it certainly isn’t its identical twin. “II” feels calmer, more reflective, a bit gentler, though just as enthralling. Put together, the records could be a very logical double album, but since they have enough differences between them, their separation makes as much sense. And it gives Earth fans less of a wait between records, and that’s always a plus.

Something I noted the many times I’ve spent with “Angels II” is that the record really flies by. The first time I heard it, which was just a cursory listen to see how it sounds, I was stunned when the final track expired and my iPod light came back on. But that’s not to suggest it’s too short. It actually sounds about right, and it usually led me to go restart the record. As much as I like Earth, I don’t often listen to their albums over and over in one sitting, but this one I have. There’s something about it that reaches back to you and pulls you into its world.

These five cuts probably would be embraced by most audiences (well, except for folks who don’t dig instrumental bands). There’s a little something for all ears, and they ease you into the collection on “Sigil of Brass,” a lightly strummed and plucked cut that’s joined by Lori Goldston’s rich cello and Adrienne Davies’ pattering cymbals. “His Teeth Did Brightly Shine” is dusty and deliberate, slowly rolling out as if over the opening of movie credits. Carlson’s guitars eventually seem to have conversations amongst themselves, and his playing really is the highlight of the song. “Waltz (A Multiplicity of Doors)” is led in by Davies’ purposely sleepy pacing (she eventually goes more jazzy), Goldston’s hovering and weaving cello, and Carlson’s storytelling guitar work that has more than a flush of Midwestern charm. “The Corascene Dog” is somber and slightly sunbaked. Carlson’s guitar line that provides the spine of the song is the most memorable of the album, and for me, the most cathartic. Closer “The Rakehell” is pushed into motion by Davies’ drum work, and the rest of the band (especially bassist Karl Blau and Carlson) goes on to build a chill, psychedelic conclusion that lets you remain exploring the outer edges of your mind but also rouses you back to reality.

Earth have been on quite a roll since their return album in 2005, “Hex; Or Printing in the Infernal Method,” and this revitalization has been most rewarding. Each record has its own mission statement and helps you get in touch with different feelings and emotions. “Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II” is one of the strongest entries in their entire catalog, and for me, it landed in my lap at just the right time.

For more on the band, go here: http://www.thronesanddominions.com/

To buy “Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II,” go here: http://www.southernlord.com/store.php

For more on the label, go here: http://www.southernlord.com/