I think rarely if ever has the contents of an LP been better represented by its cover than Locrian Infinite Dissolution. Take one look at that glittering, cold reflective and multi-faceted mirrored glass sculpture by David Altmejd, part Fortress of Solitude, part menacing Transformer. It’s all right there looking back at you.
I bought Infinite Dissolution on a whim as I was mooching around on Relapse Records website looking at Red Fang albums, I just liked the look of it. Relapse described it as,
A seamless and harrowing blend of dark ambience, drone, black metal, post-rock, and experimental electronics
So, a bit different to Faster Pussycat then. I didn’t have any harrowing blends of dark ambience, drone, black metal, post-rock and experimental electronics in the 1537 so it filled a hole. I won’t lie to you, the fact that to celebrate their 25th birthday Relapse Records have been releasing limited editions of 250 on silver vinyl definitely played a part in my decision too. If that tipped the balance then I’m very grateful because it exposed me to something I’d never have heard otherwise; something rather special.
Locrian are a trio, roughly drums, guitars and keys/electronics – although if you look at what’s played on each track then it’s a bit more messy than that. First off whilst I like drone and dark ambience and I’m a real sucker for post-rock, the black metal tropes are a little harder to locate in Infinite Dissolution and I’m glad; I’m too much of a wimp to deal with too much in the way of blast beats and growling, okay so certain drum patterns prevail but that’s all I can detect.
Basically, right from the start Infinite Dissolution sounds like the best and most evocative soundtrack you have ever heard. The camera flies us in over abandoned cities, tangled wreckage of lives and buildings, occasionally picking out a poignant detail, maybe a child’s tricycle, or a smashed garden gnome. There’s no sign of people, no movement, no remains, just all the useless congealed concrete of our so-called progress and civilisation, all now overrun, overgrown and overlooked; the whole Ozymandias effect, yet again*. As you fly with the camera eye, you don’t care, everything is too big, too stark for emotion to have any real meaning, or to be anything other than the basest indulgence; besides the cold has come.
The cold? all the music on this excellent LP hints at it, shiny and crystalline. It is all rather beautiful and pure. Check out the pitiless atmospherics of ‘KXL I’, the electronic winds swell and threaten, but the central keyboard motif dances onwards, until it is blanketed out and squall of guitar spirals upwards to meet it and to close out the track. Next track ‘The Future of Death’ takes us into even deeper drifts, with its almost subliminal unearthly echoing vocals. Most of this album sounds like the coldest day on earth, you’re guaranteed to be able to see your own breath when this is playing. True story.
But it is difficult to pick out individual tracks, Infinite Dissolution stands, or falls as a whole. It is apparently a 7-rack meditation on the nature of, and struggle with extinction, I suspect Locrian don’t end their gigs with a crowd-pleasing medley of ‘We’re An American band / Takin’ care Of Business’. The lyrics are minimalist, the voices more textural than lyrical – although the female vocals on two tracks work very well. The album conveys its message with its look and overall soundscape, tiptoeing close to recent Godspeed You! Black Emporer territory on ‘KXL II’, but I disagree with the blurb from Relapse Records here, it isn’t harrowing, there’s no harshness – Infinite Dissolution may soundtrack a plunge into the abyss, but if so it’s a stately swan dive, all poise and perfect form.
Have I mentioned that this is a brilliant LP yet? you can take the standard of musicianship almost for granted and it is absolutely spot on, but the production by Greg Norman is really quite brilliant too, all sheen and frigid clarity. The guitars retain their crunch from time to time and the gallery of keys and effects ebb and flow, sometimes sounding a little like a weaponized Biosphere, this is a band sponsored by Moog synthesizers after all.
If any of this sounds like your sort of thing then buy it, this is my favourite LP of 2015 so far and I really cannot recommend Locrian enough. Anyway, isn’t it about time that you plugged that dark ambience, drone, black metal, post-rock and experimental electronics-shaped hole in your own music collection?
PS: This track is from their previous LP, that I need to check out, but the sound and visuals give you a very good idea of where Infinite Dissolution is at too:
*You can never get too much Shelley, can you?
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.