Subterrestrial – The Burning Earth (MP3, Datahex Records)

I always love it when the content of a noise album matches the theme of the album and song titles. In the case of The Burning Earth (a digital release on Datahex Records), Subterrestrial crafts four tracks of experimental noise and drone that expound on the titles of his songs. According to Subterrestrial’s blog, The Burning Earth is an  “elegy for Centralia, PA where a coal seam fire has been burning since the early 1960s.” Throughout, fires of noise rage and release over 49 minutes, pulsing and shifting in static.

Opener “A Solitary Ember” is a slow burn, opening with a UFO-like humming that slowly distorts as the track progresses. It’s a minimalistic droning piece, with a slowly churning repetition that effortlessly morphs at intervals. The static crackling gives it that sense of one lone piece of ember, slowly twinkling and almost burning out before it reignites in a spark.

And then we’re on to “Smoke and Heat From the Basement,” a ten-minute track that maintains its pulsing rhythmic bass line paired with a static flare underneath. Subterrestrial is content with holding onto these rhythms, never rushing the ideas until the track is ready to expand gradually. After a while, the haze of the static begins to overtake the bass rhythm, pushing it to the background as different pulses take front and center. Yet this track maintains a similar sound throughout, and ends exactly where it starts with a wavery rumble.

“The Burning Earth Opens to the Sky” is my favorite here, a crunchy mix of noises that shifts more than most of the other tracks. This is the noisier of the tracks on The Burning Earth, with high-pitched shards of noise along with bassy alternations that drone on. The track is also the more experimental, opting for harsher noises and shimmering static, a smoky exhalation from the scorched earth.

The 22 minute finale “Desolation” is perhaps my least favorite out of the four, utilizing a frustratingly minimal sound that left me uninterested in the track. It’s fairly long and sedate, peaceful in its crackling fuzz of fire-like popping sounds and snapping embers, and while it does give a good sense of desolation with its enduring length, there wasn’t much for me to latch onto. It’s almost like a soft noise wall if you will, a lengthy track of droning crackles that failed to capture my interest. However, it does work as a calming outro to the album, and it might appeal to those who like more reserved, repetitive noise.

There’s some good drone to be had on this Subterrestrial release, and “The Burning Earth Opens to the Sky” even offers up some noisier fare. Although at times carrying on a bit too long for my taste, The Burning Earth captures the essence of the fires of Centralia, an endless surge of sparks and flame that refuses to burn out.

Download it here!


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