Mother Earth #2 : Drone and Flutter

As much as I love all Earth albums, some of them are harder to discuss than others.

Earth 2 is both a milestone and a very abrupt album to get into. The one that later exegeses established as the beginning of Drone Metal as an actual genre ; it is a must-have for all connoisseurs, which might put even more pressure on newcomers. You kind of have to get into it, and you have to get it. You have to recognize its cult status and intrinsic value.

So, how do you do ? I would usually get on an enthusiastic ride about how Earth 2 is a monolith of unending riffs drenched in feedback and reverb, how Dylan Carlson and his then-acolytes Dave Harwell (bass) and Stuart Hallermann (audio engineering) recorded it by using an awkward sequence of speakers, mics, re-speakers and re-mics to attain a level of thickness and saturation that startled everyone including the already boundary-pushing Melvins… But not sure that book knowledge would help here.

Feelings are at stake, and finding however Earth 2 might make you feel requires some acceptance. This 3-tracks, 74-minutes-long album obviously takes some time to be even listened to, but as there is no musicality in the common sense of the word, one has to let go of any expectations and just accept what’s coming. You, the listener, are not in control of what happens, nor when it happens.

The gate I personally found to connect to the music was actually through the visual identity of the album. Far from any kind of Western imagery, it is a picture of the sky somewhere above the Mongolian steppe. A wide and seemingly homogeneous blue sky ; but in reality, a sky full of subtle iridescence and scintillations. Thick with diffuse clouds diffracting an omnidirectional daylight in slight tone modulations.

Ever stood up staring at an entirely grey sky concealing the sun, but radiating sunlight all around to the point of almost blinding intensity ? There you go. This is how Earth 2 sounds like to me. Omnipresent and infinitely wide, overwhelming, but a whole celestial soundscape slowly carrying noise and flutter. In these moments there is no rationale to seek structure and yet you perceive what is at play. There is no reason not to turn away and rest your eyes and ears ; and yet you stay and embrace the full intensity of it.

Who knows, maybe this could work for you too. Look up at the sky ; dive into Earth 2.