House of Low Culture, Poisoned Soil 2xLP

I've been struggling with this one for a while, and a rather long while at that. This is not to say that it's not a good record - it's fantastic. It's just difficult to digest; House of Low Culture's Aaron Turner even confirmed as much to me, and it's his and his wife, Faith Coloccia's, music. There's something otherworldly, something altogether alien at work here; that much is evident from the very beginning. It's quite disconcerting, at times, and I can only guess that that is by design...

There's no soft pillow here, nothing to offer you comfort or relief. The drone of feedback that opens the album confirms that much at least, but that of course does not mean that this relies on harsh effects to communicate with the listener. You just have to be careful not to get comfortable with the ambient soundscapes that to me at least are the foundation on which all the other sonic activity rests. There's simply too much going on; even when it seems like there is very little to be heard, the anticipation of what's to come undercuts the subtlety of sound and refuses you even a second of peace. This would probably present a challenge to many listeners, and I have to think that's the point. Alien sounds aren't supposed to be very greeting or inviting, and the improvised guitars, effects pedals, samples, and gossamer electronics that make up the varying textures on this record, be they thick and harsh or thinner and a bit hazy, will keep you guessing and gasping for air.

But given the challenges inherent in listening to an album like this, the payoff is still immense. If you take the time to get to know this record intimately, to know the sounds so well, to know exactly when to get up and flip the records over, your burdens will feel lesser. Your sorrows will fade to the background, because even though there is no relaxation to be found here, nor euphoria, there is substance. There is the feeling that you bore witness to some sort of sublime cleansing ritual meant to contribute to the common good, and not to any particular individual. There is the feeling that you're somehow better for having heard this, even if you can't describe why.

The 2x12", which was pressed on 200 gram vinyl, can be purchased from Taiga Records.

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