Union Chapel, London, 11th March 2012
Earth playing live in The House Of God? It’s a peculiar blend given that the spiritual proclivities of mainman, Dylan Carlson, but then again the band have always inspired (and sometimes required) a kind of devotional worship over their varied career.
With a line-up of bass, drums, guitar and cello, this latest incarnation of the band wring an incredibly mournful exaltation from these base elements. Recent material has moved away from the drone of old towards an astonishing electric pagan folk, highly repetitious and patient in developing simple song structures into something enveloping and bewildering. An additional element to the show is added by the venue itself – so hushed that you can hear the unamplified conversations of the band between songs and the clang of strings during a tune-up.
Playing material primarily from latest album, Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light II, the band have a weird kind of telepathy, playing with huge sympathy to each other across the dark instrumentals. Two tracks stand out particularly – the weird experimental downer funk of ‘The Rakehell’, and the martial stomp of old track, ‘Tallahassee’, which brings to mind some sort of Old Testament liturgy.
The night feels unsurprisingly more like a mass than a rock gig. In this high-vaulted chapel we’re left in little doubt that the spiritual channels have been opened and we’re receiving a transmission from somewhere beyond.