Aaron Turner creates shadowy, improvised exploration through guitars with immersive ‘To Speak’

Photo by Faith Coloccia

Often, I spend the evenings of my workdays enjoying a fine marijuana product in order to relax and prepare my body for sleep, something it’s not actually terrible at doing but doesn’t always serve me as I wished it would. The deeper I get, the more I want music surrounding me, stuff that can be there as I contemplate and imagine, something that stimulates creativity and thought as I prepare to recharge.

I doubt Aaron Turner had that in mind when he went to work to create “To Speak,” but it’s a perfect record for what I described. This third effort of solo guitar experimentation from the man whose fingerprints are all over modern heavy music from his work with ISIS, Old Man Gloom, Sumac, and so many other projects, is an introspective and mentally stimulating record that really needs multiple visits to fully take in the entire thing. When I mention in the open this music has been great for altered mental states, understand that doesn’t mean wasted. It means a time when the mind is operating and thinking on a different plane, a productive one, and having music like this to enhance that experience is so valuable. By the way, when Turner entered the studio with producer Randall Dunn, he had nothing. This music was created in spontaneous fashion, improvised magic that was left mostly as is in the final product, and that is stunning to realize that something this powerful was drafted from scratch.

“Firelight” opens with sounds humming before the playing rumbles, strings thumped and plucked. Noise picks up and sizzles, making your core vibrate, your senses blur, and then the final gasps leave you electrified. The title track begins in a haze of doom drone, punching through and dining on interference, the sounds making it feel like you’re in the middle of a roaring furnace. Glorious leads begin to spill generously, the intensity picks up and drives, and the sizzling burns a new path with visions never consumed before. Fires gust, things feel more beastly, and the power gently fades into the air. “Granny’s Pendalgue” runs 10:12 and is moody and introspective as it begins, dreamy noise piercing your mind. Guitars swarm and create a strange ambiance, noise stretches and slurs, and everything stomps in a drunken haze, stepping into primitive terrain. The pressure builds one final time, the world feels like it implodes, and the rubbles gathers all around you.

“An Unpleasant Gravity” trudges through space and time, strings are struck with agitation, and then it seers into your mind. Guitars spit static and tangle with its surroundings, jolting to its end. “Wingehaven Decension” is the longest cut at 14:15, and it dawns in a light rumble, almost as if a storm is just beginning, and in a way, it is. Cosmic light quivers and moves through the skies, strange auras open up before your eyes, and your head is surrounded by sounds that make every one of your cells react. It then sounds like a giant craft is landing, the playing cuts through your dreams, and the beastly fire fades.  “Brittle Expectancy” enters amid chiming guitars before charges bolt, clean shimmers and melodies mixing together. Electro zaps make your brain short out, sounds scream through the clouds, and the last blasts strike and fade. Closer “A Deep and Instant Regret” starts as a static storm with the guitars shaking bones and the charges pushing into your comfort zone. Punches are thrown and absorbed in the dark, guitars collect and scoff, and the last scrapes drain the last of your life force.

Entering the sessions that resulted in “To Speak” with nothing but time, it’s almost incomprehensible considering what Turner created spontaneously on his third solo record. This is an album that has many perfect settings for its consumption, but probably the best is alone, in the dark, maybe if you’re a little high, just taking time to exist and align with yourself again. This is an imaginative, cosmic collection that finds ways to rewire your mind in ways you never thought possible.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/aaronturnermusician/

To buy the album, go here: https://aaronbturner.bandcamp.com/album/to-speak

Or here: https://www.trost.at/aaron-turner-to-speak.html

For more on the label, go here: https://www.facebook.com/SigeRecords/

And here: https://www.trost.at/