Dissolvers (split w​/​Locrian)

by Century Plants

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Century Plants/Locrian - "Dissolvers" split LP (Tape Drift, 2010)

It’s hard to miss the drone leanings of Century Plants, part of a busy “sonic arts collective” based in Albany, New York. Ray Hare and Eric Hardiman improvise wide, cavernous sounds using guitars, electronics, and voice. On their latest release, a split LP with Locrian (whose metal-tinged drones have been explored previously in this column), the duo’s patient forays are both stubbornly free and devoutly musical. Even at their heaviest and most dirge-like, the two sound more like guitarists than abstract artists, often recalling Neil Young’s Arc, a collage culled from live feedback interludes. Century Plants live just as comfortably in those kinds of in-between spaces.

When you've got two like-minded bands as awesome as Locrian & Century Plants, and a label that churns out winner after winner like Tape Drift, you know it's only a matter of time before the two shack up and squeeze out a monster like Dissolvers.

This is Century Plants' first vinyl adventure. You should be as excited as they are about it because it means they put on their game face and made some of the best drifty jams ever. Their two tracks are a perfect fit for a Locrian split. They're dark and moody as fuck, blending noise, metal, doom, drone, and throwing in some psych to spice things up. The first track is a wandering mess of clatter, hiss, & reverb. Not doing much but creating a weird atmosphere and being a creeper until 6 minutes in when it gets into a real groove and they start banging out those chords, bordering on blissful, but it stays rooted in a brown rusted drone. Their second piece is more cosmic, wonky bloops mixed with solid celestial guitar tones, just drifting through space dust, waiting to get sucked into the inevitable black hole. The pleasing guitars turn into a more evil buzzing beast, more feedback & distortion added to a layer of deep bass drone & static noise while a buried muffled guitar solo works its way through echoing vocals and ever increasing volume. This is some top notch shit as only Century Plants could do it.

Flip it over and you're treated to Locrian's latest mastery of indescribable black ambient noise metal. They start things off with a piercing tone, already more harsh than anything CP did on their side. Let it settle in, though, and some beautifully sad guitars show up with lazer feedback in tow. They crank that shit up, getting super evil, throwing around more & more crash & burn like it ain't no thing. It's noisy and loud and totally fucking badass metal without so much as tapping on a drum. Their second track has that same looped electronic scale that I think also showed up in some form on Rain Of Ashes. Then comes in some delayed picking & shredding and a wash of wind style static. Super hypnotic, a semi-psych jam pulsing through Locrian guitars, heavy on the harsh buzzing drone.

Dissolvers is a dark twisted piece of noisy psych metal drone that couldn't be any better. These two duos are forever at the top of their game, and even though they're both so goddamn prolific, this split is essential.

Century Plants are the duo of Ray Hare and Eric Hardiman (who also runs the Tape Drift label). They’ve been on the scene for a few years now with some very nice releases. However, they dropped their CDrs and sidestepped their tape formats to put out their first-ever vinyl. And, I’m sure glad they did! First, with “Fading Out,” the moody atmosphere of the glacial slowburner crawls onto the scene. Then, as it gains more ground, scratchy effects are left in its wake. Then a hovering quality almost knocks the legs out from under this track and elevates it so that it doesn’t just approach you but lingers overhead. Second, “Delirium” is much more chord-concentrated, opening up into a spiritual journey. The repeated chords with echoed effects kind of dance around. I can just imagine some light reflecting off of a slow, small stream of water in a cave darting around on its walls. A great couple of tracks. I think these might be some of Century Plants’ best work yet.

Locrian has become a familiar friend to many of us over the last five years as well. They are the trio of A. Foisy, T. Hannum, and J. Lemos out of Chicago. Known to walk the darker side of drone, they don’t disappoint on “Dissolvers.” Their first track, “On a Calcified Shore,” is looped with a guitar whine and other sporadic effects. That whine is pretty cool though, almost like some alarm that’s gone out of order. The second track, “Omega Vapors,” has a very bass-driven undercurrent. Higher-pitched guitar reverb is dripped over top like a Pollock to his canvas. Cascades of these notes flit about, only to end on a more dour, beastly low toward the end. Another great side!

I’m not sure why, probably the name, “Dissolvers,” but this LP has opened my eyes to what’s going on in much of experimental music today. I think—and maybe you have a different take—that I approach each release from an artist as a discovery as to what they have created out of their ideas, accidents, and equipment. Like erecting some kind of soundscape sculpture. But, this LP has helped me to not think of this wide genre as something forward-acting, something building, something making. Rather, I think of this as not so much a creative service to music but a complete destructive disservice to music. This is a total deconstructive act to audio enjoyment. It is a disassembling of what we have always traditionally understood music to be. The elements and principles of music are picked apart, dismembered, dissected so that we can see why those things matter and what these things are on their own. It’s completely violent. In drone’s case, you pretty much reduce everything down to the most basic building block of music: the vibration. Vibrations are what we hear, they are the sounds that soothe and attack. And instruments are handy, easily manipulative means through which we can create such vibrations. When these sounds are assembled just right and connected as though they belong together they become musical. But, if all music is is a sound then who cares how they are made or what makes them? So, after our musical edifice has been razed, why not build again with the broken rubble before the dust has even settled? And that is the deal behind this stuff. This isn’t good or bad. It just is. It’s a result of our times and a product of the avant-garde. No matter how you look at it, however, I’m very glad that it happened. I have been able to see through a new prescription how marvelous a world of sound can be. I have felt a greater range of emotions and felt more connected with what’s deep down in me than ever before through experimental music.

Well, not only the talent on this record, nor just the insightful realizations it has invoked, but even the gorgeous packaging on this one make this well worth the money. It comes in a gorgeous black sleeve with silver ink. Minimalistic fonts and a nice, solid pic of a building (?) adorn the cover. The back continues the same font and its use, with another squared and centered pic, this time of a tree. It also comes with a heavy cardstock insert with a nice printed photo and band information on either side of it for each artist. The beautiful cherry on top is that it also comes with a killer CDr with a remix of each track on the album. What a nice extra, huh! I almost think it’s worth it just for that. Having such a perfect package I think Tape Drift should change its name and deal more with records. If they ever do come out with another vinyl release I will be expecting great things since the bar has been set so high. Don’t miss this piece of Tape Drift history! Limited to 300. 9/10

Beautiful silver leaf screen-printed sleeves - a strictly limited vinyl run from Tape Drift* Tape Drifts impressively move into the vinyl realm with a sublime split LP of bleak drone treatments from Chicago's Locrian and the terrifically titled Century Plants of Albany, upstate New York. Firstly, the presentation is about pitch-perfect; black label vinyl housed in silver leaf ink screen-printed sleeve and a special double-sided colour insert - just to whet your appetite. Century Plants commandeer the A-side, stoking the very slow burn of 'Fading Out', evolving from near-inaudible, ominous, spectral figures, fleshed out with spidery webs of autonomic guitar picking and deeply unsettling psych-drone shapes looming from the aether. 'Delirium' is the after effect, eyes slowly rolling in the back of the head while sparse, wintry-tanged ambience gives way to O'Malley-esque feedback manipulation and harmonised subbass. Passing the tourniquet to Locrian, we're soon subsumed by the psychoactive 'On A Calcified Shore', glass-scraped feedback swirling into ghoulish apparitions and sustained underlying drones stretching out into an inky black void, while 'Omega Vapors' intoxicates the senses with billowing clouds of feedback noise and quietly agitated strings make the skin crawl and prickle. Gorgeous music - limited copies only.

october 2010 release ; very nice split lp by two acts that share a great deal, both conceptually & sound-wise (i.e. both are working in a blessed intersection of “doom metal” and “the eternal drone” ; volume is a factor ... but so are dynamics, a less common signifier) :: eric “rambutan” hardiman & ray “fossils from the sun” hare (both members of upstate ny troopers burnt hills) ‘s century plants ... & andré foisy & terrence hannum (& jeremy lemos & steven hess) ’ locrian ...


released October 12, 2010

Ray Hare
Eric Hardiman



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Century Plants Albany, New York

Century Plants are Ray Hare and Eric Hardiman.

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