Monday, January 2, 2012

Aerial Ruin - Valleys of the Earth (Vendlus Records, 2011)

Listening to Valleys of the Earth, the first solo outing for Portland's Eric Moggridge, formerly of Old Grandad and Epidemic, is like wandering into some shadowed Canyonland, leading you further and further away from the sun, further and further away from the life that you knew. From everything certain, from everything logical... perhaps there are petroglyphs? A spent campfire? Like the amber album cover, and much of life, it is full of ambivalence.

I came across Aerial Ruin in a red lit basement, (chronicled here), he had a beard like a viking and a voice like a fallen angel. With only his voice, his words, a guitar, and the barest smattering of effects, he torched off black light past life regessions, behind my retinas. He set my hair on end, and rifled my skin with gooseflesh. After going to tens of thousands of concerts in my life, you would think i would be bored and jaded; instead, Aerial Ruin had me thanking Baal for checking pc-pdx that night, for following my nose and my instincts, and ending up at the bar maldoror, for the unholy spectacle, yet again.

Moggridge's music could be comfortably categorized as 'neo-folk', if it were not for the fact that there is nothing comfortable or categorizable about this music; if you enter this land with that mindset, you will not catch the whiff of sulphur and sandalwood. You will not find the beating heart, in the heirloom chest of a broken down barn. This music is all about contradictions and blurred lines, my favorite: dark romantic acoustic music made by a man who looks like a heavy metal berserker, who rights songs full of witchcraft and cryptic romance. These are songs from someone who has truly crossed the void, and seen things he does not know how to describe, let alone relate to the rest of the world. He described his stuff as 'drug music', as in soundtracks for closed eye inner visions, but it is not the easily identifiable brand of Kyuss worship of most Stoner metal.

What i can say, is that anyone who likes any of these abovementioned styles, will dig this record. Fans of Death in June or Current 93, Brendan Perry's solo material, or the lengthy desert journey of Sleep's Dopesmoker will have a new holy relic on their shelves. People that think in categories and don't really listen to music, will most likely just miss it entirely.

Looking around the interwebs, at what other journalists have had to say about this record, has left me wanting to puke blood. There's not much there, period, and i feel the previous criticism has been bland and generalized. There's been much mention of the monotonous nature of the vocals and guitar style, and i'll grant that it is a singular vision, and that's not to everyone's liking. But not once have i heard anyone mention, that the playing is SICK AS FUCK, and everything is gloriously, glowingly recorded, gorgeously mixed, everything in its place. Moggrodge harmonizes gloriously with himself, giving the record a rich, velvety depth, with just the subtlest flavors of effects, like reverbs and delays, a little phasing, cuz hey, this is psychedelic music! While i've got 10000000 records to listen to and write about, and usually i can't wait to be done with a writing assignment and move on, i can't wait to listen to this album over and over again. To know its twists and turns, to lose myself in its shadows.

Instant Classic. Pay Attention!

1 comment:

  1. Def like what's on display there.
    It's almost like he couldn't get a metal band of some form together, and took all the songs he'd written, and decided play them by himself.
    To a much more interesting outcome, possibly. He's very clearly not playing your typical "sad bastard with a guitar" music, and that's an excellent thing.