Earth at The Marquis Theater, 11/21/12
Tom Murphy Earth last night at The Marquis Theater
EARTH @ MARQUIS THEATER | 11/21/12
Near the end of Earth's set, Dylan Carlson said, "This is the first song I ever wrote for Earth. It's called 'The Ouroboros is Broken.'" This probably came as a surprise to a lot of people because it is inarguably one of Earth's classic songs. The doom-laden, clipped guitar riff in the beginning of this live version progressed into that drawn out, shifting, sprawling, colossus of a song that evolves slowly and surely through distinct movements before coming to a crushing end. Steve Moore played his trombone instead of filling in the keyboard parts for an even more dreamy yet menacing treatment.
Tom Murphy Earth last night at the Marquis Theater
For a guy who has seen so much, been a part of so much and done so much in music, Dylan Carlson came off as a humble figure on stage and he gave himself up to the music with each song in a collective display of intuitive musicianship. The band started off the set with a new song, and the way Carlson's guitar sound shimmered out of the low end drone was not just beautiful but curious in how the sound could seemingly transform out of something that sounded completely different.
Adrienne Davies anticipated and partly guided the slow, inexorable rhythms of each song with perfect accents, drawn out in such a deliberative yet organic way while Don McGreevy's bass lines flowed smoothly underneath every song in a strong but never eruptive presence. This music didn't flare up so much as burn slowly. Moore's Hammond floated over the top of the music like he was John Paul Jones circa "No Quarter" himself.
"The Bees Made Honey In the Lion's Skull" got a wildly enthusiastic response from various corners of the crowd. And Carlson told us it was only appropriate to play that song because this was the line-up that had played on the recording of the album of the same name. Carlson definitely went for some unconventional melodies, but what made his method so interesting was his peculiar but highly effective sculpting of feedback and his manipulation of that feedback to set the pace of the music.
Carlson would let the notes or chords ring out to the point where it would just feed back and break up, and then start to splinter. This technique, coupled with Carlson's way of creating a drone in the low end and then backing that up with a higher register micro-riff, proved a highly versatile way of making simple elements the building blocks of a surprising variety of sounds and dynamics.
Carlson told us one of the songs came out of one of his dreams that also included Bob Wills. "The result was 'Multiplicity of Doors,'" Carlson said. "It's a waltz, and you can dance to it." The set ended with "Tallahassee," and one person in the audience was excited for the song out of all proportions. But, to be fair, it was one of the best of the set. McGreevy played a bass line that was alternately floated over and flowed under the main melody in interesting ways.
The show would have been over with that, but the band graciously came back on stage and performed a new song attached to "Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light Part I." For twenty minutes, the band created a sonic narrative like a jazz composition but played at less than a quarter the speed.