Acoustic albums can unfold in many different ways. Multiple musicians providing different layers of instrumentation can be used (something like Green Carnation), percussion/drumming is an option, and various instruments ranging from guitars to synthesizers can be in the lead. Aerial Ruin, a creation of one Erik Moggridge, is as acoustic in its most purist sense of the word. On many a track on Valleys of the Earth there is nothing but Erik’s voice and his (electro)acoustic guitar, period.
Aerial Ruin is a new creation by Erik, although he is an experienced Bay Area rocker. I could list here a number of his earlier outfits, but that would be pointless, since I am not familiar with any of them and, besides, Aerial Ruin has little to do with any of them anyway. Valleys of the Earth is as private and personal of a record, as it is pure in its acoustic sense. Throughout the album’s eleven tracks I could not stop thinking that the album could have been conceived to be shared only with a very narrow group of friends, played in some remote coffee-shop in Portland, OR, from where Erik hails. This record appears to be a number of naked singer/songwriter compositions into which we are peering with a pair of non-blinking, almost rudely gazing eyes.
I don’t claim to pretend I am a frequent visitor to artsy coffee-shops/gathering places we have in our area. But when I do stumble into one and we have an artist playing there to a crowd of five intent listeners, I found myself often connecting strongly with some compositions, yet tuning out of others. The vocals, the guitar sound are all very much within the same range, but this naked delicate acoustic style has this partial weird effect on me.
Nothing personal then against Aerial Ruin, but I am close to this 50/50 split on Valleys of the Earth. Amends, Lonely of Need, The Twist in the Chain and Stnemarcas are tracks that stood out for me. Amends happens to be the opening short introduction to the album and Erik’s velvety voise, full of personal trauma, and acoustic guitar melody mesmerize. Lonely of Need has that mountain stream coldness and clarity, while fingers spell Moonlight Sonata feeling. Stnemarcas starts out as a noise experiment, but then transforms into a person staring at the flock of geese flying to faraway lands. Both Lonely of Need and Stnemarcas reach the heights of tenderness and overwhelming transcending serenity. At the same time, although I can’t point out much to specific differences, Earthen, Psalm and This Place do very little for me, and could serve as brief directionless acoustic interludes on an Agalloch or Klabautamann album.
To give credit, Erik tunes his guitars very differently on Genesis, making them sound almost tubed and synthesized, with a definitive repeating hook. Sacraments is also very different with its certain urgency and polyphonic overlays.
You can always trust Vendlus Records to uncover what they consider this artistic gem. The label obviously thinks they have one in Aerial Ruin. Our “metal only” readers need not bother here, but those open to a broader music envelope may check Valleys of the Earth out and debate me on your choice of favorite tracks.
Killing Songs :
Amends, Lonely of Need, The Twist in the Chain, Stnemarcas
|Alex quoted 73 / 100|
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