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Earth - Earth 2 (30th Anniversary)

Earth - Earth 2 (30th Anniversary)

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VINYL
Did you know there are horses on the cover of Earth 2: Special Low Frequency Version? There are at least three in the right hand corner, gathered inexplicably near a white canvas tent, a human possibly perched among its folds. As widescreen and vast as the cover may seem, those little details—the horses, the possible human, the faint wisp of white clouds—give it depth and wonder, something to which the imagination can return.

Did you know that the music on Earth 2—repressed now for its 30th anniversary, back in its original artwork, and accompanied by a riveting set of remixes that demonstrate the reach of what Dylan Carlson long ago called “ambient metal”—works much the same way? The surface is massive and obvious, the meatpaw riffs of Carlson and bassist Dave Harwell pounding and swiping and pawing at the speakers, a true bludgeon in three-dimensional sound. Listen, though, for the details in the corners, for the finesse beneath the force, and Earth 2 reveals new levels of depth and wonder.

The widespread impact of Earth 2 suggests that others have indeed been leaning in, listening to these minutiae and making something new of them. A masterpiece without many genre precedents, Earth 2 surely helped send doom metal down its more modern drone, ambient, and avant-garde avenues. Those descendants are obvious. Perhaps more surprising and gratifying are the ways it has influenced electronic music, modern composition, and even hip-hop by realigning our senses of tempo, time, and texture. Earth 2 engendered a rearrangement of expectations, regardless of preferred form.

The new remix set, Earth 2.23: Special Lower Frequency Mix, makes this clearer than ever. The Bug has taken a bit of “Seven Angels” and laced it with feedback and big bass, allowing grime luminary Flowdan to climb atop it with his dark, staccato visions. Responsible for many transformational records himself, Justin K. Broadrick of Jesu and Godflesh crawls inside “Teeth” to lash at it with punishing drum machines and sordid layers of new distortion, building it into some brokedown palace of industrial mayhem. Loop’s Robert Hampson makes good on the premise of ambient metal with his 30-minute hypnotic beauty, while longtime Earth cohort and longtime Built to Spill multi-instrumentalist Brett Netson seems to float the sound through a benighted graveyard on his clever “Teeth” revamp.

These are not obvious directions for Earth’s impact. Again, Earth 2 was never an obvious record. 30 years on, have we yet to grasp the enormity of Earth 2, an album that has continued its slow cycle of influence, uninterrupted? Probably not. Hell, most of us don’t even know there are horses on the cover.
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