Planning for Burial’s Wasluck uses suburban monotony, grim emotions on ‘Below the House’

pfbMany years ago, a wise Canadian drummer wrote the line, “The suburbs have no chance to soothe the reckless dreams of youth.” Whether you’re young, middle aged, or old AF, the suburbs can be a depressing place, a source of pure monotony that can drive your psyche into the ground.

That idea is something that’s at the heart of “Below the House,” the third record from Planning for Burial, the project helmed by sole creator Thom Wasluck. His suburban pressure came from moving back to the home where he grew up, taking a hand in the family business, and finding his way into an endless spiral of sameness and alcohol. It’s perfectly understandable, getting locked into a routine that never seems to end and trying to find something fresh and happy on the other end. The room where Wasluck first started his musical career helped push the sense of isolation and darkness you hear on this record, packed inside a tomb of doom, goth-fueled electronic music, shoegaze, and rock. But beyond how the music sounds is the heart of the record, a wounded, scarred one Wasluck bears that helps him pour his emotions into these gripping nine tracks.

pfb-cover“Whiskey and Wine” begins with noises scorching and gazey pounding, with organs wailing and desperate cries wrenching. Feedback charges and scrapes, while sorrow mixes with a rich atmosphere as the song chimes away. “Threadbare” trudges before softer singing arrives, and mournful guitars spill. “You’re losing your glow,” Wasluck calls as guitars burn, and keys plink through the murk. “Somewhere in the Evening” gushes as singing mixes with growls that are buried beneath the weight of everything. Sounds build and bubble before calm sweeps in, and piano drips as the song fades. “Warmth of You” has a goth rock spine, and it gets punchier as it goes. Synth whirs as pain arrives, while Wasluck admits “couldn’t stand the distance,” as the track disappears into the fog.

“Past Lives” envelopes you in a shroud of sound, as waves of noise move toward center, and the feeling of profound isolation stretches itself. Strange warbling spills out, and the sounds speed up like a tape off the reel as it rolls out. “(Something)” is a sad, quivering instrumental that feels like a lost soul passing in the night, and then it’s into the dual “Dull Knife” pieces, with the first the shortest and angriest. Guitars crush while melodies create a tornadic effect, and suddenly you feel like you’ve entered a sudden drunken haze. That begins to dissolve into a field of noises and zaps, folding into the 11:41-long second part. There, the song gets tranquil and floats along, with hushed singing and a black pit of depression. “Call me back home,” Wasluck continues to mutter, with melodies repeating along with it, and a thick blanket of drone delivering gut-wrenching pain. The closing title cut wooshes and slowly chugs, with quiet vocals, sounds that could make your head swim, and an eerie chill that pulls you toward the ending.

Many of us have those things that get us caught in a rut and rob us of our happiness and enthusiasm. Wasluck was able to channel his into “Below the House,” the most personally gripping of his career. These songs are unmistakably bleak and wounded, and there isn’t much about which to smile. But that’s the end result of ensconcing yourself in a place that could lock down your creativity and keep you in its clutches until one day you’re old and gray.

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