Long-running drone pioneers Earth capitalize on the critically lauded Hex: Or Printing in the Infernal Method as well as provide a supersize appetizer for their forthcoming album, The Bee Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull, with the CD/DVD combo Hibernaculum. The band has taken a trio of older tracks and reworked them in the Hex style, and produced the same tantalizing result. Also offered is “A Plague of Angels”, previously available only on a 12″ split. Expect slowly paced, sprawling instrumentals that conjure visions of dust bowls and the building tension prior to a Main Street shootout (“Ourobos Is Broken”) or of mellow sun-baked rides (“Miami Morning Coming Down”).
You can practically see the tumbleweeds blowing across the prairie (even occasionally between the often long, ringing notes), as Hibernaculum does a marvelous job of painting a vast open landscape that manages to be both peaceful and rustic and oppressive and unforgiving. Dylan Carlson’s winding, trail-worn guitar lines take center stage, but his stark, clean tones are skillfully supported by understated drums and bass, organ, mellotron, and even a little trombone. It all combines effectively to create a set of songs that have a reasonable amount of diversity and personality, given the album’s fairly narrow focus. The ominous moods of “Ouroboros is Broken” and the sixteen-minute closer “A Plague of Angels” (great title, huh) are balanced by the sleepy “Miami Morning Coming Down” and the gentle melodies draped across Coda Maestoso in F (Flat) Minor”.
Hibernaculum also includes Seldon Hunt’s Within the Drone documentary, an hour-long film that chronicles Earth’s 2006 European tour. There are several interview segments with Carlson in which he discusses his views on drone and its deceptive structure, his motivations as a musician, and Earth’s recent evolution into a fully realized live band. Much of this footage is interesting the first time around, although a few of the segments are poorly recorded and pick up a lot of off camera conversations, making hard to hear Carlson, who’s not the most dynamic of speakers in the first place. The film also includes a good bit of live footage, although the interviews and performances are intermingled. This approach may have more creative merit from a film making perspective, but from the consumer viewpoint, it’s nice to be able to revisit the live songs without having the interviews in the middle. But overall, Hibernaculum is a definite winner and should help these vets continue to gain the attention they deserve.