sun 03/07/2022

Album: Earthen Sea - Ghost Poems | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Earthen Sea - Ghost Poems

Album: Earthen Sea - Ghost Poems

Domestic, yet very, very deep ambient dreams from New York City

Kranky, run in Chicago for very nearly 30 years now, is one of the most remarkably consistent record labels around. They helped define “post-rock” in the Nineties with key releases from the likes of Labradford and God Speed You! Black Emperor, and they’ve put out all manner of way out-there postpunk, psychedelic rock and electronica freakery, all well retaining a unifying aesthetic identity.

And while doing all that, they have also quietly (how else?) become one of the most important platforms for ambient music in the world. 

With the likes of Loscil, Ethernet and Steve Hauschild they have built up a catalogue of music that seems to exist outside the ebbs and flows of electronica trends, that’s rich and luxuriant in its immersive atmospheres, but which delivers real emotional complexity even as it lifts you up and away from everyday hassles. And into this perfectly fits the music of Jacob Long aka Earthen Sea, now onto his third album for kranky.

This record was made in New York in the first Covid lockdowns, and you can hear isolation and intimacy in it – any percussive sounds are small, like the clicking of household objects, crackles of electricity or tapping of soft furnishings, while cloud-like chords rise and fall around them like moods and thoughts in isolation. Many of those chords sound like electric piano, some like reversed ringing of guitar strings, others altogether synthetic, but all of them, and the percussion are processed to have a velvet softness.  

Even the most electric of crackles doesn’t agitate: everything here is gentle. But that doesn’t mean it’s without power. As with any isolation, your thoughts can spiral, and there’s a sense from Long of strong emotion being held in stasis, of thoughts roaming out towards strange, sad or even dangerous territory but simply acknowledging it and moving on rather than being trapped there. And in that feeling, for all the isolationism of the aesthetic, there’s a reminder of shared humanity, of commonality even when we’re disconnected. It might be a gentle record but it’s also very, very beautiful.

@joemuggs

Hear "Snowy Waters"

Even the most electric of crackles doesn’t agitate: everything here is gentle

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