Tuesday, July 3, 2012

At The Head Of The Woods - Beyond Time And Space

[ L I S T E N A N D B R E A T H E ]

At The Head Of The Woods are beyond time and space. This record, released on the Summer Solstice of 2008, sounds like lying on yr back, beneath a mossy oak tree, staring at starlight. There may or may not be fire. You must drift off for a moment, you feel yrself drift to the sky on a carpet of red cedar smoke. As you rise, you gain perspective; you notice the grandeur of grand forests, but you also see/hear/feel the devastation. The whine of homeless owls. The flies of pestilence. Cascadia seems to foster a vague form of nature worship. The enormous trees, millions of species of flora and fauna. It is impossible not to empathize, not to be driven to one's knees in respect and humility. There comes a point when the bark of a chainsaw biting into wood feels as if it is entering yr own flesh. You have become a black metal warrior, at that point, and it don't matter what yr music sounds like. There is an unbroken thread from Panopticon to Mt. Eerie to James Woodheads' At The Head Of The Woods Project. You would be forgiven for assuming some kind of atmospheric post-rock/metal, something like Windmills By The Ocean or Year Of No Light, but ATHOTW is walking his own path. On 'Beyond Time & Space' you get a 70-minute excursion of free-floating Floyd guitar, synth drones, and field recordings. There are lyrics, pertaining to the sky the earth the soil, but its all so luscious and drawn out, its hard to pick out what he's talking about. The comparison i was most keen on was a resemblance to Black Tape For A Blue Girl, there's a hint of Sam Rosenthal's ethereal masculine vocals, which is a style that has been moldering and unused for at least a decade. Beyond Time And Space sounds like a darkwave band making a space-rock record, record live in a cluster of Willow trees. I saw James Woodhead at the local Psychopomp event, last week at The Lovecraft. For that occasion, he played a droney synth set that sounded like Bach on ketamine. Through him, i found out about a regional collective called Glassthroat Recordings, which seems to focus around Seattle and Portland. They feature my favorite brand of nature worship, magickal and mysterious and unfettered by genre. They've got metal acts, dreamy droney soundscapes, dark romantic folk. I just found out about this shit last Wed. and i am a man obsessed. I look forward to going through their entire catalog, and exploring the dark woods of my mind. If yr from here, check 'em out, go see 'em live, buy a t shirt. If yr not, listen and wonder just what the fuck we've got in the water, up here in the corner. Highly, highly recommended. Distinctive artist with a singular style and something to say. Emotional yet still visionary. New favorite. You can read a sweet interview that James did with the equally sweet Heathen Harvest magazine here. You can stream the whole record here: http://attheheadofthewoods.bandcamp.com/

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