Dylan Carlson to Release Conquistador April 27; New Song Streaming Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 13th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

dylan carlson

I’m sure it’ll be a sleeper hit, but there’s an entire swath of the population to whom Dylan Carlson‘s Conquistador is going to prove utterly essential, and those lucky devils have probably already stopped reading and made their way to the bottom of this post to check out the tour dates with Sleep and the new track “Scorpions in Their Mouths,” which is streaming now in all its guitar-droney goodness.

Interesting to note that Carlson, who of course is best known as the founding guitarist of pioneering atmospheric instrumentalists Earth, is using his own name for Conquistador, rather than the solo moniker drcarlsonalbion that has been his go-to over the course of the last few years. That, coupled with the fact that Carlson‘s wife, Holly Carlson is the cover model for the record — she may have taken that picture as well, I don’t know; the one of Carlson at the top of this post is by her — leads one to think this is a pretty personal outing for the six-string-and-effects wizard, but somehow I doubt anything about Conquistador will be quite so up front, including its motivations.

April 27 is the release date as per the PR wire:

dylan carlson conquistador



Known first and foremost as the lynchpin of instrumental band Earth, Dylan Carlson has become one of alternative music’s most ambitious pathfinders. It seems beyond appropriate, then, that Carlson’s new solo endeavor is titled Conquistador. The five-track record channels the indulgent drone of Earth while traversing uncharted sonic terrain. Listen to the album’s first single, “Scorpions In Their Mouths”.

Carlson’s previous solo work under the moniker drcarlsonalbion has consistently veered away from Earth’s American motifs in favour of English folklore. For his first proper full-length as Dylan Carlson, the guitarist returns West. Whereas Earth has sought to score Cormac McCarthy’s examination of white settlers’ horrific campaign against Native Americans in Blood Meridian, Conquistador bypasses the intermediary narrative of a novelist. Long heralded as a master of minimalism, Carlson’s album demonstrates his ability to craft compelling symphonic compositions while exercising extreme musical frugality.

“I guess what ties this all together—all my musical projects and my life in general—is the idea of the quest, that search for new horizons and something unnamable and possibly unreachable,” Carlson says of the record.

Conquistador was recorded at God City Studios with Kurt Ballou during a weeklong break in Carlson’s 2016 solo tour of the East Coast of the US. After months of gestating the material that would eventually become Conquistador, Carlson viewed the session as an opportunity for both catharsis and collaboration, thanks to contributions from the esteemed Emma Ruth Rundle (baritone and slide guitar) and his wife Holly Carlson (percussion, photography, cover model).

Conquistador is due out via Sargent House on April 27th.

Conquistador Track Listing:
1. Conquistador
2. When The Horses Were Shorn Of Their Hooves
3. And then the Crows Descended
4. Scorpions in their Mouths
5. Reaching the Gulf

Dylan Carlson, On Tour:
Sunday, July 22 — Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club *
Wednesday, July 25 — Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory *
Friday, July 27 — Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel *
Saturday, July 28 — Boston, MA @ Royale *
Wednesday, August 1 — Chicago, IL @ Riviera *
* w/ SLEEP


Dylan Carlson, “Scorpions in Their Mouths”

Tags: , , , , , ,

ROADBURN 2017 Day Three: And Yet it Moves

Posted in Features, Reviews on April 22nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan


04.22.17 — 22.23 — Sat. night — Hotel room

I don’t mind telling you I was a total wreck this morning. There we were, finishing up the third issue of Weirdo Canyon Dispatch (get the PDF here), and holy macaroni, I just couldn’t hack it. I’d gone to sleep at a semi-reasonable time, circa 2AM — which is pretty good, considering — but woke up at around three and was up past 4:30. Just up. Weirdo Canyon Dispatch Saturday issue.Brutally, brutally awake. I could’ve cried.

Instead, I put my head down on the desk in the 013 office while we waited for the test-print of today’s ‘zine and was granted a generous reprieve from the folding process that followed. I folded three copies of today’s WCD: my own. After that, I made the most of my special dispensation and high-tailed it back to the hotel to sleep for another two and a half hours, at the end of which time I pounded water, a protein bar and ibuprofen and it was enough to temporarily trick my body into believing it was human. This weekend has been pure madness, and there’s one day yet to go.

By the time I got back to the 013, I knew I’d missed my chance to hit the photo pit for day-openers The Bug vs. Dylan Carlson of Earth, the somewhat cumbersomely-named collaboration between, well, The Bug and Dylan Carlson, but I still had plenty of opportunity to be assaulted by their combined volume of drone and beats, soundscapes thick enough to swim through and handed out with enough force to vibrate the plugs in my ears and the teeth in my skull. Really. I think I lost a filling. They were very, very loud.

Two experimentalists like that working together, even as a one-off, carried an air of being something special to start the day, and so it was. The Bug‘s rig, flanked on either side by bass cabinets with two more laid down in front in such a manner as to make Carlson half-stack look positively minimalist in comparison, shook the upstairs The Bug vs. Dylan Carlson (Photo by JJ Koczan)balcony where I set up shop for the duration, and the clear impression that came through was that although they used different means of expression — Carlson with his guitar, The Bug with his laptop and mixing board — their work together was way less of a “vs.”-type situation than the name led one to believe. They were very definitely on the same side, but while they played, spotlights slowly hovered over Main Stage crowd, feeding the air of suspicion and paranoia in such a way that was eerily appropriate for what they were doing.

Speaking of collaborations, over at the PatronaatRazors in the Night — AKA John Dyer Baizley of Baroness and Scott Kelly of Neurosis playing oldschool punk and hardcore covers — were just getting started. I stayed put in the big room, however, because I knew I didn’t want to miss a second of Oranssi Pazuzu. The Finnish progressive/psychedelic black metallers have been an increasingly steady presence at Roadburn over the last five years, and after their own slots at the church, they managed to pack out the Main Stage to an admirable degree. People stood outside the open doors for not the last time today in order to catch a glimpse of their malevolent, ultra-deep swirl.

As immersive as it was dark, I couldn’t argue. Oranssi Pazuzu, who released their fourth album, Värähtelijä (review here), in 2016, may have conjured the finest blackened psychedelia I’ve ever seen. It was so much of both, so chaotic and yet purposeful, that to Oranssi Pazuzu (Photo by JJ Koczan)consider it anything less than the work of masters would be completely underselling it. When I was done taking photos, I went out into the hallway to walk around to the other side of the room and I couldn’t believe it was still daytime. And more over, the sun had come out! Something so cosmically abysmal just seemed like it should be swallowing any and all light around it, but so it goes. Stately and ferocious, they cast their waves of of bleakness over a sea of nodding heads, and after years of missing them here, I was finally glad to have been clued in, even if I seemed to be the last one in the entire Main Stage space to have caught on. Which I probably was, because that’s the kind of hip I am. Which is to say, not at all.

Maybe it was partially a case of going easy on myself, but I once again didn’t budge from the Main Stage following the conclusion of Oranssi Pazuzu. Today was minimal back and forth, actually, which suited me just fine after two busy days of Roadburn 2017 bouncing from this venue to that one. I’d hit the Green Room twice before my evening was over, but was at the 013 the whole day, which after all the Extase and Het Patronaat yesterday almost made me feel insecure and restless — “Don’t you have somewhere you need to be, sir? Oh yeah, here,” and so on. Sometimes this festival plays tricks on your mind.

My reasoning in staying put was more than justified, though, with Warning coming on to play 2006’s Watching from a Distance in its entirety. I knew some of what to expect from a Patrick Walker performance after seeing him front 40 Watt Sun here in 2012, but of course Warning brought a presence all their own in addition to his melancholic emotionalism. They struck a hard balance between sonic weight and sheer heft-of-sadness, and yet as morose as they were, and as understated as their aura was on stage, they were never anything but engaging. Rare band, rare album, rare set. Warning (Photo by JJ Koczan)This Roadburn has had its share of special moments, and Warning fit that bill as well. There was something empowering about them, or at least validating, and as deep into their own headspace as they went, they never seemed to get lost there.

It’s not often you see a band play a full album and then want to go and put on that album directly afterward, but Warning doing Watching from a Distance had that effect. I can’t claim to know the record inside and out, but I felt fortunate to have had the chance to see the band bring it to life, which much to their credit, they did without losing the heart-wrenching resonance of the studio versions of the material.

Next door in the Green Room, the focus would soon be about an entirely different kind of crushing execution, as Belfast dual-guitar three-piece Slomatics made ready to take the stage. I got there about 20 minutes before they went on and was still too late to get a spot right up front. Should’ve figured. I’d heard people talking about how stoked they were to see them, and after being lucky enough to see them in Norway last September at Høstsabbat (review here), I also knew they weren’t to be missed. My timing being what it was, I still got there to see Jon Davis from Conan soundcheck the guest vocals he’d provide for closer “March of the 1,000 Volt Ghost,” and it was good to know that was coming.

Davis also released Slomatics‘ fucking excellent 2016 album, Future Echo Returns (review here), on Slomatics (Photo by JJ Koczan)his Black Bow Records imprint, so all the better to have him there alongside guitarists Chris Couzens and David Majury as well as drummer/vocalist Marty Harvey, who even before Davis showed up stomped out the most pummeling tones I’ve heard over the course of the last three days. “Electric Breath,” “Return to Kraken,” “And Yet it Moves,” “Supernothing” — this is the stuff of lumbering, rolling, molten doom supremacy, and as they’re five records deep into a tenure that one hopes continues into perpetuity, Slomatics know how to wield these weapons to glorious effect. I felt like I was going to pass out and ran downstairs to hammer down a quick dinner — chicken in some kind of tomato-based sauce with green and red peppers, jalapenos and cheese over lettuce; two plates in about five minutes — and was back in the Green Room in time to catch Davis‘ guest spot from the side of the stage and jump up to take a picture of the band when they were done playing. I never do that kind of thing, but Slomatics were nothing if not an occasion worth savoring.

Shit would only get more doomed from there. Like I said yesterday, everyone here makes their own Roadburn, and I knew how I wanted my night to go. I wanted it to go doom. That meant hanging out in the Green Room more for Ahab, which I was more than happy to do. The nautically-themed German funeral doomers were not a band I ever really expected to be able to see, and knowing how packed it got for Slomatics, I assumed much the same would ensue. I was right. Ahab probably Ahab (Photo by JJ Koczan)could’ve filled the Patronaat if the press of the crowd behind me half an hour before they even went on was anything to go by, but as it was they beat the Green Room into submission with their guttural, ultra-slow lurch and churning devastation.

It was by no means the same kind of grind that Memoriam were doling out on the Main Stage, but watching Ahab play was like witnessing the giant, five-foot-thick gears of some industrial revolution shipyard turning the assembled audience into powder. The very means of production brought to bear on all of our caved-in skulls. Yes, they were hyperbole-level heavy. Unremittingly so, and to a claustrophobic degree. I don’t know if it was during “Old Thunder” or “To Mourn Job,” but there was a point at which I had to remind myself that I’d actively wanted to be so brutally overwhelmed and so overwhelmed by brutality. Did that make the effect any less punishing? Not in the slightest, but thanks for asking.

There was only one place left to go to continue my downer trajectory: back to the Main Stage for My Dying Bride. Having the UK doom legends play 1993’s Turn Loose the Swans in full made an awful lot of sense after special sets in 2016 from Paradise Lost and in 2015 from Anathema and Fields of the Nephilim — I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Katatonia in 2018; never seen them and they’d seem to be next in line, despite not being British — and the drama unfolded early as frontman Aaron Stainthorpe hit the stage with violinist/keyboardist Shaun Macgowan for “Sear Me MCMXCIII.” Soon enough, founding guitarists Andrew Craighan and Calvin Robertshaw, bassist Lena Abé and drummer Shaun Taylor-Steels would join, and the full fray would be unleashed. Chances are I don’t need to tell you how influential My Dying Bride have been on the trajectory of the last two decades of doom, but suffice it to say I’m not sure I could’ve found a darker way to round out myMy Dying Bride (Photo by JJ Koczan) Roadburn 2017 Saturday night than to watch them deliver that level of scathe with that level of professionalism.

And no, I’m not just saying that because Stainthorpe wore a tie. With animation by Costin Chioreanu behind them, My Dying Bride were the consummate headliners. Mysticum were still to follow on the Main Stage with a production I’d caught in soundcheck earlier in the day that was probably the most elaborate I’ve ever seen in the 013 venue, but for me, My Dying Bride marked a culmination of what I wanted the evening to be, and so I knew my night was done. There’s always more to see at Roadburn. Always something you don’t get to. Always someone who, years down the road, you wonder, “What the hell was I doing that I missed that?” but sometimes when you’re in Tilburg, you’ve crafted your experience in such a way that makes sense at the time, and that was me tonight. Would’ve been hard pressed to find anything to top My Dying Bride anyway.

One day left in Roadburn 2017, which is something I know to be true because I only have two protein bars remaining — one for before the show, one for after. Tomorrow’s another early start to fold Weirdo Canyon Dispatch issues, so I’ll leave it there once again and say thank you for reading and if you’re so inclined, you can check out more pics after the jump.

Which is right frickin’ here:

Read more »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Roadburn 2017: Magma, Chelsea Wolfe, SubRosa, Slomatics, Wretch, Ahab, Mysticum, Crippled Black Phoenix, Deafheaven and More Added to Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 18th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Roadburn 2017 banner

Great googly-moogly, Roadburn. If Roadburn 2017 didn’t already have your attention when it announced Coven as part of its first revelations for next year’s lineup — and it should have, make no mistake — then this should do the trick. The list is, frankly, overwhelming, and it speaks both to how immense the scale of Roadburn has become and how much the event continues to strive to push the boundaries of what it does. The first acts for the day curated by BaronessJohn Dyer Baizley? Magma and Chelsea Wolfe. SubRosa playing two sets, one of which is comprised of this year’s magnificent For this We Fought the Battle of Ages (review here) in full, the other a stripped-down, at least semi-acoustic version of the band. Leif Edling of Candlemass debuting his new project The Doomsday Kingdom. Slomatics, Dylan Carlson of Earth, Wretch, Inter Arma, Crippled Black Phoenix (hope they’re on the Main Stage; fingers crossed), Woe, Ahab, so many more it’s astounding.

If Roadburn 2017 was like, “Okay, that’s it. We’re done.,” could you really argue with what’s been put together already? The terrifying thing is they’re still just getting started.

Fresh off the PR wire:


New names added to Roadburn Festival 2017 ahead of ticket onsale

• MYSTICUM to bring their incredible stage show to Roadburn 2017
• CHELSEA WOLFE and MAGMA are the first names confirmed for John Dyer Baizley’s curation
• THE BUG VS DYLAN CARLSON OF EARTH confirmed for a special Roadburn show
• DEAFHEAVEN finally make their Roadburn debut at the 2017 edition
• SUBROSA to play two exclusive sets
• …and more.

ROADBURN FESTIVAL is pleased to add new names to the bill for Roadburn 2017. The 22nd edition of Roadburn Festival will take place April 20-23, 2017 at the 013 Venue, Tilburg, The Netherlands.

MYSTICUM have been confirmed to play the main stage at Roadburn 2017, bringing their distinctive brand of black metal to Tilburg. Back in 1996, MYSTICUM wrote the rulebook, for what industrial black metal should be with their debut album, In The Streams of Inferno – and then swiftly torched it. Renowned for their incredible stage show, MYSTICUM have some clear intentions for Roadburn 2017: “We shall invade your minds and tear your souls apart.”

MYSTICUM will play the 013 venue on Saturday, April 22.

John Dyer Baizley has confirmed the first two names for his curated event: CHELSEA WOLFE and MAGMA.

Describing himself as “a loyal devotee of her songwriting, performance and recorded output”, John echoed many Roadburn attendees in calling for the return of CHELSEA WOLFE to the Roadburn stage. Having performed at the festival in 2012, and again this year as part of Converge’s Blood Moon Set, we’re thrilled to have CHELSEA WOLFE back in Tilburg.

Unequivocally one of the most talked about moments in the history of Roadburn was MAGMA’s overwhelming performance at the 2014 festival. These seminal progressive rock pioneers went down a storm, and to this day, we still hear so many attendees talking about MAGMA’s set, and craving their return for Roadburn.

Both acts will perform on Friday, April 21 at the 013 venue, as part of John Dyer Baizley’s curation.

Although they come from disparate sonic universes, THE BUG (electronic music wizard Kevin Martin) and DYLAN CARLSON (mastermind of the massively influential EARTH, who have graced Roadburn with their presence in 2009 and 2011) are nevertheless two of the more revered names in experimental music as a whole. Their paths crossed in 2014, when they surprisingly teamed up on a Record Store Day exclusive release. Americana meets industrial, minimalism meets pulsating dance beats, metal meets electronics… who knows what can happen when THE BUG meets DYLAN CARLSON OF EARTH? One thing is for sure, the walls will shake.

THE BUG VS DYLAN CARLSON OF EARTH will perform at the 013 venue on Saturday, April 22.

DEAFHEAVEN’s appearance at Roadburn has been a long time coming. As divisive as they are inclusive, DEAFHEAVEN have thrown the field wide open with regards to what it means to be a metal band. They have managed to bring extreme metal fans to the same room as shoegaze and post-rock/metal fans; their music doesn’t simply tick all those genre boxes, it plays join the dots with them – just as we like to do at Roadburn Festival.

DEAFHEAVEN will play at the 013 venue on Thursday, April 20.

SUBROSA’s For This We Fought The Battle Of Ages has been out less than two months, but at Roadburn HQ it not only hovers near the top of our album of the year lists, it is marked as a future classic. We are delighted to have the Salt Lake City five-piece perform the album in full at Roadburn 2017. Not only that, they will perform SubRosa – Subdued; a not-quite-acoustic set with all the passion at a fraction of the volume of a regular SUBROSA set.

SUBROSA will perform For This We Fought The Battle of Ages at the 013 venue on Thursday, April 20, and Subrosa – Subdued on Friday, April 21.

• CRIPPLED BLACK PHOENIX will fuse progressive rock, post-rock and righteous, guitar-driven heaviness. Prior to their Roadburn appearance, Crippled Black Phoenix will play Doornroosje, Nijmegen (NL) on December 10.
• DÄLEK will bring a different kind of heaviness to the Roadburn stage, and comment “Some people might wonder why a hip-hop act was added to the bill… we intend to show them why.”
• AHAB will play The Call of the Wretched Sea in full
• ZHRINE bring a slice of Icelandic darkness to Roadburn
• AUÐN join their Icelandic brothers, delivering windswept, atmospheric black metal
• ALUK TODOLO will perform latest album Voix in full
• ZU bring their frenzied experimentation to Roadburn 2017 again
• INTER ARMA will make a triumphant return to Roadburn, and no doubt deliver yet another stunning performance
• Leif Edling’s THE DOOMSDAY KINGDOM will make their live debut at Roadburn 2017
• Karl Simon brings his post-Gates of Slumber band WRETCH to Roadburn for their European debut
• Thick tones, soaring melodies, and bone-crunching rhythms will be the order of the day for SLOMATICS
• WOE bring their passionate and potent American black metal to Tilburg
• ULTHA will be making a bid for the heaviest set of the day when they perform
• EMPTINESS will blend black metal and power electronics

Tickets for Roadburn 2017 will go on sale from Thursday, 20 October 2016. They will be available to purchase in person from the 013 venue, Tilburg, The Netherlands from 6.30pm local time – and ticket buyers are invited to the pre-sale party at the venue featuring Ortega and Gomer Pyle. Tickets will go on general sale at 9pm (NL and mainland Europe)/ 8pm (UK)/ 3pm (East Coast USA)/ 12 noon (West Coast USA). Tickets can be purchased from this link.

For more information on the pre-sale party, click HERE.


SubRosa, For this We Fought the Battle of Ages (2016)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Dylan Carlson to Release Falling with a Thousand Stars and Other Wonders from the House of Albion June 25

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 9th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

dylan carlson (photo by Holly Carlson)

In the realm of ‘signature sounds,’ there are few who can claim a space as individualized as that of Dylan Carlson. As the spearhead of Earth, he’s refined drone rock into something that can be minimal as easily as orchestral, evocative or off-putting depending on whims, and his solo work as Drcarlsonalbion only moves further out from there, whether it’s the soundtrack he did to the film Gold (review here), reminiscent of Neil Young‘s for Dead Man, or the explorations of British folk that he’s taken up the last several years with Earth and in his own outings, typified in the upcoming solo release, Falling with a Thousand Stars and Other Wonders from the House of Albion.

What may or may not be a collaboration with Coleman Grey in its final form, the album was initially funded through a (successful) Kickstarter last year and will be officially issued next month. It’s streaming now on Bandcamp, however, and you can hear it on the player below. Like everything the man touches, it’s worth getting lost in.

Have at it:

drcarlsonalbion falling with a thousand stars and other wonders from the house of albion

Drcarlsonalbion self-release – Falling With A Thousand Stars And Other Wonders From The House Of Albion

Dylan Carlson is to officially self-release Falling With A Thousand Stars and other Wonders From The House Of Albion on 25 June.

“The concept behind this album ‘Falling with a Thousand Stars and Other Wonders From The House of Albion’, was my interpretations of Scotch-English folk ballads about human/supernatural interaction, specifically those ‘spiritual creatures’ known as ‘fayres/fairies/etc.’ Not the tiny winged ones of Victorian nursery stories and decor, but the beings of folklore and the historical records (mostly trial dittays from witch trials). The genesis was my own personal encounters that occurred in 2010-11 and that have occurred occasionally since that time. The album is solo guitar played by myself. It was originally going to have environmental recordings from sights of human/fayre encounters, but unfortunately those recordings were unusable. The album was recorded at crackle’n’pop studios in Seattle with Johnny Sangster as engineer. It is part of a project that was funded initially by kickstarter, and self funding on my part. There is also a short film, dir. Clyde Petersen, released with the cd, and a book (tba).” – DRCARLSONALBION

Having founded seminal rock band Earth in 1989 in Olympia, Wa., Dylan Carlson has since been recognised as the originator of what came to be known as ‘drone metal’ or ‘ambient metal’. As the sole original member and principal songwriter of the Seattle based band, Carlson continues to explore new ground and remains an innovator in his musical career and a compelling character outside of it.

As Earth continues to reach new heights, Carlson also extends his musical repertoire towards solitary endeavours. His solo projects, initially under the moniker ‘drcarlsonalbion’, continue the sustained, expansive motifs found in Earth, but under the influence of the traditional folklore, fayre lore and occult history of England and the British Isles. Shorn of band interplay, the focus is on Carlson’s unique ‘voice’ of amplified guitar and tone.

Never one to be confined to a single genre or label, Carlson’s solo ventures have given him the freedom to experiment with other genres and musicians alike: from his ongoing improvisational work and performances with Dutch free-jazz drummer Rogier Smal, to his collaboration with British experimental dub artist Kevin “The Bug” Martin for the Bug vs Earth Boa / Cold EP in 2014. Most recently he joined forces with Maddy Prior of Steeleye Span, recording a song commissioned for broadcast on BBC Radio. (Psalm For A Revival, 2015)

Guitar remains at the forefront of Carlson’s solo work. His Gold soundtrack (2014) – composed for Thomas Arslan’s German feature film of the same title (2013) – features deliberate and lingering guitar themes. They evolve into forms that fade into the horizon, evoking the desolate wilderness of the American continent. Depth becomes apparent in negative space.

His latest album, Falling with a Thousand Stars and Other Wonders from the House of Albion (2016, self-released and initially funded via Kickstarter, consisting of a documentary film and book) sees a return to Carlson’s love of Albion’s supernatural days of yore. Through droning 6 and 12-string guitars, he reinterprets traditional old English and Scottish folk ballads into sombre instrumental pieces. Though a solitary venture, the textures are lush and immersive, summoning the ambiance of a lost time. Ever-present is that meditative, yet meticulous, “restrained majesty” of uncompromising repetition and intensity that is so characteristic of Carlson’s signature sound and style.

1. Reynard The Fox
2. She Moved Thro’ The Faire
3. Alisson Gross
4. Rose In The Heather
5. Tamlane
6. King Orfeo
7. The Elfin Knight


Drcarlsonalbion and Coleman Grey, Falling with a Thousand Stars and Other Wonders from the House of Albion (2016)

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Drcarlsonalbion, Gold: Once upon a Time in the West

Posted in Reviews on June 19th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

It should stand to reason that any Dylan Carlson solo outing released under the banner of Drcarlsionalbion (also stylized in all-caps or all-lowercase) should have a certain amount of continuity with Earth, since as much as that band has become a rotating-member collaboration, Carlson‘s guitar remains the driving force of it. He’s done a few solo releases at this point, a Latitudes session in 2012 brought particularly resonant results (review here), but the latest, Gold, has the distinction of being Carlson‘s first soundtrack work. That in itself is a little surprising. One wonders if it’s something he’s particularly avoided doing over the years or just never got around to with Earth. As focused on atmosphere as Earth has been since returning from a multi-year hiatus with 2005’s Hex: Or Printing in the Infernal Method — a landmark the influence of which continues to be felt nearly a decade later — to tap them for soundtrack work seems like a natural fit. Even working on his own, that proves to be the case with Carlson and Gold. The 24-piece offering serves as the score to a German western of the same name set and filmed in Canada, and Carlson sounds well in his element on these tracks, which vary from noodly snippets like the 18-second “Gold VIII” to full-song breadth like the closing “Gold XXIV,” which has enough of an end-credit feel at just under five minutes (it’s also the longest inclusion) to evoke a sense of finality even without the silence that follows. Through it all, Carlson‘s tone is very much his own, and clearly intent on portraying open spaces and an undercurrent of foreboding that never comes to outright terror, but lingers vague in the distance.

Watching the film and hearing Carlson‘s guitar complement footage of horses walking slowly through desolate woods, one can’t help but think of Jim Jarmusch‘s 1995 western, Dead Man, and Neil Young‘s guitar score for that, which had a similar echoing feel in places and which was a noted point of inspiration for Carlson with Earth‘s Hex album. Part of the appeal of Carlson‘s work over the years has been interpreting the feelings and emotions contained in what are usually very minimalist atmospheres, figuring out where the music wants to take you and then going to that place, and on that level, Gold taps into some of the similar big sky, wide-angle Americana that Hex did, though the spirit of this release is different because very often it jumps from one piece to the next before an ambience is fully set. That keeps Gold from really being able to be evaluated as a full-length album, but if you catch it in the right headspace, the vibe is open enough and consuming enough that you can get lost in Gold without really even realizing, the 44-minute span not a slog to wade through, but a well-honed dronescape comprised of individual glimpses. It is minimal — Carlson and his guitar. As Earth have expanded their sound in multiple directions over the last nine-plus (really almost 25) years around Carlson and drummer Adrienne Davies who joined in 2001, Drcarlsonalbion seems to be the place the guitarist retreats to in order to be alone with the frequencies he crafts. There are some other noises far back in the mix on “Gold V” and elsewhere, an obscure sense of someone hitting something with something else, an actual tom hit on “Gold XI,” but Gold has a lonesome sound and that’s clearly the intent from the beginning.

Read more »

Tags: , , , , , ,

Dylan Carlson Announces UK Solo Tour; New Split 7″

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 2nd, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Always fascinating, always exploring, Earth founder Dylan Carlson continues to grow a solo aesthetic apart and expanding on the signature drones of his long-running avant outfit. On Oct. 14, he’ll launch what’s essentially a long weekender, but during the week, in the UK, taking along with a new 7″ split with Rogier Smal, with whom he may or may not be performing on the tour. Call me crazy, but if you knew what you were getting outright, it just wouldn’t be the same.

The new drcarlsonalbion Carlson‘s chosen banner for solo work to date — song, “Holly’s Jeans” is available now for streaming, and it follows the PR wire info below, which also includes hints at a new Earth album:


Expanding on the far-reaching folkloric explorations of drcarlsonalbion’s solo tour of last year, the totemic figure and his celebrated guitar will be bolstered by the accompaniment of Rogier Smal on drums on the upcoming UK tour which commences on 14 October in Bristol.

Incorporating free playing whilst maintaining the sublime recurrent elements Dylan Carlson is known far, Rogier Smal (Dagora, Marshall Allen, Mick Pontius) brings his singly unique and drumming capabilities to the heady mix.

The duo will be playing material from a split 7” released in conjuction with the tour, as well as expanding and elongating material from drcarlsonablion’s recent Hackney Lass and Latitudes series releases.

Today we can share the track “Holly’s Jeans” from the 7″ release…

Here are the tour dates:
Mon 14-Oct-13 Bristol, The Exchange
Tue 15-Oct-13 Leeds, Brudenell
Wed 16-Oct-13 Manchester, Soup Kitchen
Thu 17-Oct-13 London Lexington (w/Thurston Moore) *Matinee 5-8pm TICKETS STILL AVAILABLE*
Thu 17-Oct-13 London Lexington (w/Thurston Moore) *Main show 8pm SOLD OUT*

Earth will be playing an exclusive show at Unsound Festival in Krakow, Poland, on October 19th, alongside Monolake, King Midas Sound, Eyvind Kang and Altar of Plagues amongst others. The lineup for this show is composed of Dylan Carlson (guitar), Adrienne Davies (drums) and Bill Herzog (bass). In other Earth news, there is a new album in the pipeline, with further details to arrive in good time.


drcarlsonalbion, “Holly’s Jeans”

Tags: , ,

At a Glance: Drcarlsonalbion, La Strega and the Cunning Man in the Smoke Latitudes Session

Posted in Reviews on November 9th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

Even if you went into listening to Drcarlsonalbion‘s La Strega and the Cunning Man in the Smoke with no idea that it was Dylan Carlson of Earth behind it, you’d probably be tipped off within 10 seconds of the opening title-track. The long-running drone forebear’s style is so distinct, his sleepy minimalism so recognizable as it has long been at the core of Earth‘s resounding influence, that there’s just no getting away from it. It seems like whatever the context, Carlson sounds like himself.

And I guess it is the context that’s different, mostly. The surroundings. La Strega and the Cunning Man in the Smoke was recorded as a Latitudes session (see also releases by Blood and Time, Wino & Conny Ochs, The Entrance BandBardo Pond and many more), set to tape live in the Southern Studios in the UK — far enough away for the guitarist to be removed from the America in his Americana, if not the Americana itself. Joined by vocalist Teresa Colamonaco (also of London’s Screaming Tea Party) and fellow guitarist Jodie Cox, the seven component songs on the 42-minute full-length take on an English folk atmosphere, the opener pairing loops and feedback volume swells with Colamonaco‘s subdued, semi-spoken delivery while “Reynardine” carries a distinctly Gaelic air and accent.

All three players prove malleable. Colamonaco sings in an almost Scandinavian-sounding accent on The Kinks‘ “Wicked Annabella,” and Carlson‘s foreboding rumble there seems a far cry from the sweetened peaks of Richard Thompson‘s “Night Comes In.” The vocals give a sense of structure to Carlson‘s lines, as does Cox‘s own guitar, but even so, the 13:26 “The Faery Round,” the second track after “La Strega and the Cunning Man in the Smoke,” fills any instrumental or open-structure quota one might perceive for a Carlson release, his guitar offering tonal richness that’s nigh on orchestral as it paints images of the rolling English countryside later to be answered by the urbane impatience of the PJ Harvey cover, “Last Living Rose,” which closes.

After Earth‘s explorations of UK folk traditions on the two Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light albums, it doesn’t seem unreasonable that Carlson would look to push that inspiration further, and though it has its moments of indulgence — how could it not? — his first work under the Drcarlsonalbion moniker engages atmospherically with the calming effect that has been so prevalent in Earth‘s latter-day outings while also giving a different feel for what it is that he does with his guitar. Colamonaco‘s voice is a natural fit, and the penultimate “Little Woman” feels all the more intimate despite its two-guitar dynamic. There are parts of the album where one might miss some percussive aspect, but with a release like La Strega and the Cunning Man in the Smoke, the idea isn’t perfection or elaborateness of production, but rather the raw stuff of human songwriting and performance, and like other Latitudes sessions before it, this one certainly has that. It must be some room they record these things in.

As Earth‘s approach has grown increasingly complex with the additions of cello, horns, bass, etc. over the years, to hear him play as stripped down as he is with Drcarlsonalbion underscores how utterly vital he is to what Earth continues to do and how much he and the sound of that band are permanently intertwined, because just as one can’t hear Earth and not think of Dylan Carlson, one can’t hear Drcarlsonalbion and not think of Earth. That’s not to say the two don’t have distinct personalities between them — Colamonaco‘s presence here is enough to make that true and Cox‘s guitar complements in ways one just isn’t used to from recent Earth — just that the mark Carlson leaves on any of his outings is unmistakable and indelible, and that’s as true with La Strega and the Cunning Man in the Smoke as it has ever been.

Drcarlsonalbion’s website

Latitudes at Southern Records’ blog

Tags: , , , , ,