Who knew Mother Earth was a musician? More than that, who knew She had skills? With Throats as Fine as Needles—a band consisting of Campbell Kneale, Antony Milton, James Kirk, and Richard Francis—offers one of the coolest band names ever, as well as bringing our favorite planet into the recording session as the fifth band member, using battery-powered instruments in the outdoors to record six tracks. Actually, it takes place in a New Zealand abandoned bunker, with the quintet (the four musicians plus Mother Earth) recording sounds as they (the sounds) bounce off the walls. Described by the press kit as being like an “excavation turned exorcism”, the drone in this work struggles to stand on its own when it almost cries out for inclusion in a motion picture score, behind action sequences and dramatic dialogue. Tracks built on “massive drones” should undoubtedly be repetitive—that’s to be expected. It seems, though, that this particular experience could be enhanced by a sense of change or movement (in spite of how counterintuitive that suggestion may seem), not only to differentiate the tracks from one another, but also to develop a proactive rendering of sound images. That way, the tracks, though somewhat arbitrary in designation, would provide an environment of contrast to each other, creating a tension not unlike capturing photographs of the abandoned bunker from various angles. Track four does incorporate sounds similar to chimes that merge into a percussive discourse at about two minutes. Still, it soon reverts to the natural mass of spooky reverbs of the first three tracks. A change in tonality occurs in the sixth track, however, bordering on a heavier, more intense industrial sound and providing contrast to the collection’s initial reliance on its organ-like hum.
// Notes from the Road
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