Tuesday, May 7, 2013

... THE CIVIL DEAD "Bird Bones" (Album review)

The Civil Dead is a one man project by Chris Langer from Vancouver, Canada. It’s a genre bending mix of doom, drone, post-rock, shoegaze, cowboy western vibes and whatchamacallit. The Civil Dead’s debut release, ‘Bird Bones’ is a five track, 40 minute offering that can only be described as unique.

Drone fuzz sizzles on the western plain creating heat mirages of long dead lonesome cowboys whose souls and life patterns have been strewn recklessly across the face of eternity by “The Wild Wind (Death)”. This album opener breathes life into empty landscapes, evoking moods far older than man and time. Notes blaze through the speakers slower than the arc the sun makes across the immortal sky before finally passing on to give way to the next. All the while, an image is painted across ten minutes of time, which relies less on pattern of tone than on repetition of mood, to spring to life, an image formed of geological processes, glacial and spanning the course of aeons. It’s a tone setter, one that paves a slow rolling highway into timelessness.

One thing that keeps coming to mind as the record plays on is how different a musical vision of ambient drone and doom this project paints as compared to most other entries in the genre. The stringed instruments are downtuned and as fuzzy as the outline of dreams, but the musical choices that are made here are not made in respect to worshipping the past in any way. A clutch of outside the genre influences pierces the membrane of the purely audial to scrape harshly at the visual arts, to return with the genetic material of Ennio Morricone on a q-tip. Langer then enters the lab to create mutated freaks, as terrible to behold as the works of Ozymandias. ‘Bird Bones’ could be the soundtrack to a film no one but the songwriter himself has seen in his own mind’s eye. One picture that emerges over and over is that of dusky skies.

The vocals are mournful, nearly despairing at times, and Langer is able to juice every last drop of emotion from them. Again, the guitars are fuzzy, but surprisingly bright in tone, the drums add about as much pace to the affair as a dripping sink faucet.

As with most one man musical projects, the sounds contained herein are intrinsically individualistic. Sounds redundant, what is meant is that no one else could have made this music, nor could any collaborative effort have yielded the same results. Because of this, and the tonal quality, not to mention the molasses like tempo, the album as a whole takes on a delicate, almost sickly aspect, something that needs to be listened to as a whole, in the dark (with perhaps the dying embers of the sunset streaming through the window), and in total silence, to be fully appreciated. Though each of the five compositions here could stand on their own, they would have trouble doing so.

In the time since this album’s release, the Civil Dead has re-emerged with a one off collaboration with Delete the Son which resulted in a 15 minute track called “The Scold’s Lament” and bits and pieces of a new work in progress that carries the rather unwieldy title of “The Wilderness Is Gathering All Its Children Back Again”. As of yet ‘Bird Bones’ is the only Civil Dead release available for download on bandcamp. It’s available as a pay what you want deal.

words by Lucas Klaukien


No comments:

Post a Comment