Drowse / Planning For Burial @ Echoplex; Los Angeles, CA
I will see Thom Wasluck (aka Planning For Burial) whenever he comes to town. His live performance is one of the most minimalist you can imagine (a barefoot man with a guitar, several amps, a pedal board, and one floodlight in near-total darkness) and yet it is also one of the most arresting. He writhes, he stomps, he fights his instruments to create a cacophony of sound that is all-encompassing. Standing at his feet you are enveloped in noise. I fired off a picture during his set last night, and the recipient stated, “You’re up close!” My response was – and yes before you ask, I was a few beers in – “You can’t get hit by the waves if you’re sitting back on the beach.” My God, I’m so lame.
Drowse is another Flenser band, whose latest full-length Cold Air dropped back in March. As someone who orders most Flenser releases, I read the press release they emailed me before listening to a track and deciding I’d pass on buying the album. My initial impression was, “It sounds like Slowdive and that bio reads very…try-y.” I know that’s not a word, so allow me to explain. If you Google Drowse, almost every single site that has reviewed Cold Air or the single “Klonopin” talks about psychosis and pills and alcohol. Like, you want to call the music “druggy” without sounding lazy. I get it. I would just rather hear it than hear about it. That’s probably why I always hated being asked to write press releases for bands back in the day, and why I largely ignore them today. English 101, publicists and bands and label PR folks! Show. Don’t tell.
Nevertheless, maybe a month ago when Cold Air got repressed on vinyl, someone asked me if I had ordered it and/or was I digging it. I answered that I wasn’t, explained why, and was immediately told that I should reapproach it with an open mind. So, I fired up the old Spotify machine and plugged in some headphones to give it a second chance.
Holy shit. What a difference a couple months made.
Last night Drowse and Planning For Burial performed at Echoplex, and I could not have enjoyed the two sets more. My quick reaction to Drowse in a live setting was that they sounded outstanding, had a kind of cold wave Sonic Youth/Mt. Eerie/Slowdive thing going on, with slightly harder edges in a live setting than on record. Of course, that’s to be expected when you compare the full-band sound to the one-man-band sound on Cold Air. If you like Benoit Pioulard, the album sounds like Precis on horse tranquilizers. Now that I’m ALL-IN on Drowse, I should tell you to check out the new album and definitely check ’em out if they’re playing near you.
The last time I saw Planning For Burial was at The Airliner a year ago. Maybe it was my fancy new earplugs, but I found this set to be more eardrum friendly. The noise level is still pretty unrelenting, but like my aforementioned shitty analogy said, it comes like a series of waves washing over you. My only complaint is that even after 40-45 minutes, I’m left wanting more. That’s why I will continue to see him whenever I have a chance. And it’s why I’ll take this opportunity to implore you to see him if he comes to your town. If you like experimental black metal, noise, and an atmosphere of unyielding gloom, you might just have a revelatory experience. It’s like I try to tell my girlfriend when she refuses to watch gnarly horror movies with me: Sometimes the most terrifying art is also the most beautiful.
And now, some photos from the show:
Planning For Burial:
Planning For Burial – Threadbare [MP3]
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