Sunday, April 09, 2006

Lichens - The Psychic Nature of Being

.....Robert Lowe, singer/bassist in 90 Day Men and sometimes TV On The Radio collaborator, is getting at something. As Lichens he generates lengthy, softly ululating chants which are simultaneously without antecedent yet hinting at connections to spiritual/mystical sources numerous but undelineated. A distant cousin of Double Leopards' wall of noise approach to the vocal drone, his sound is a primitive futurism akin to a UFO full of Tibetan Monks crashing into the LaBrea tar pits. It is a wordless blues pulse that pushes us adrift in the wilderness with hellhounds trailing and the tunnel of light up ahead. And then there is the acoustic guitar. It hides until you've forgotten it then rings out as a kind of beacon in the mist. Lowe's mode of play hovers nearest to Eastern raga-like styles. On "You Are Excrement..." his rhythmic technique is so seductively sitar-like that the ear strains to hear tablas which never appear. The same track features real physical sounds of preparation: a guitar case opening or bumping against a chair leg, the air in the room an empty space waiting. All of it reinforces the ceremonial sense of the piece. Like any good service it features gradual changes and complications; homilies; the introduction of bells; sackclothed ladies at the back smelling of incense. Well maybe that's stretching perception a little, but it is a reverberating effect of the recording. By its conclusion we have joined Lichens' digging in the dirt for... something which remains ineffable.


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