For years, Chicago-based trio Locrian have been crafting outsider drone metal that truly refuses classification. With an ever-transforming, blackened soundtrack to alternative realities over the course of three full length albums and a handful of other rare releases, the brand new 40-minute The Clearing (their fourth LP) is another confident statement. The brevity is a sign that Locrian has stronger command of its energized music’s abstract nature, focusing more on the compositional aspect to deliver its best album to date.
From the haunting, organ-led psychedelics of “Augury In An Evaporating Tower” to acoustic guitar backed by subtle molten electronics on “Coprolite,” The Clearing makes musical choices based on necessity, where each moment naturally transpires and opens the door to the next. The apex of intrigue comes in the 18-minute grande finale “The Clearing” where nocturnal purrs and pulses support an engaging manifestation of smeared distortions and vocals howled from somewhere in the distance.
The band has offered the first track “Chalk Point” for our listening pleasure, and at eight minutes +, it’s a pretty generous glimpse into how The Clearing sets the invitation into its halls of darkened dreams. A lonely piano motif tight-rope walks through sizzling gongs, understated wooden percussion, and an emerging cast of drones from electronics and electric guitar. A slowcore waltz begins with guitar and drums, the piano slowly embellishing as ceremonial vocals pour from an open maw. This band definitely knows just how long to hold on to these motifs, and every sound is constantly changing. For listeners new to these somewhat unpredictable worlds, the production quality on this album is far clearer (but no less menacing) than the band’s previous albums, bridging the gap between the low-fi bleakness of most black metal and the bloated expectations of today’s digital public. Hopefully, Locrian will sink into this gap and fester productively for many albums to come.
Listen to “Chalk Point” from Locrian’s fourth studio album The Clearing: