Deafheaven with This Will Destroy You & Emma Ruth Rundle
This Will Destroy You, Emma Ruth Rundle
124 Market Place
Baltimore, Maryland, 21202
Doors 7:00 PM / Show 8:00 PM
This event is all ages
Watch & Listen
As 2012 came to a close, George Clarke and Kerry McCoy were living off of food stamps in a small apartment in the Mission District of San Francisco with six other roommates. They slept in closets and partitioned corners, licking their wounds after a year of touring with their band Deafheaven. While their debut album Roads To Judah was met with high praise, there wasn't a large audience for their signature hybrid of black metal, shoegaze, and post-rock. Consequently, the band amassed a mountain of debt on the road and lost 3/5ths of their members to the financial security of full-time employment. In the rare moments of solitude within those cramped quarters of the Mission apartment, Clarke and McCoy began piecing together musical fragments that would become their sophomore album Sunbather, an album thematically fixated on the un-punk dream of climbing out of poverty and living among the leisure class. Despite the underground's aversion to such open pining for comfort, stability, and luxury, Sunbather was a massive critical success and an unexpected crossover hit. With their new bandmates Dan Tracy (drums), Stephen Lee Clark (bass), and Shiv Mehra (guitar), Deafheaven began selling out clubs and landing high profile festival slots across North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. No one could have anticipated a band that drew from equal parts Weakling and My Bloody Valentine ascending to such heights, and that incomprehensibility added to the band's singularity and allure.
Two years later, George Clarke and Kerry McCoy were living in their own apartments in LA. They no longer had to worry about where their next meal was coming from, and they could begin working on their new album, New Bermuda, in a proper rehearsal space as a full band. In many ways, it was an ideal scenario, but doubts lingered in the back of Clarke's mind. "Sunbather yearned for something better. New Bermuda focuses on the idea of false promise, achieving something and wondering if it's what you really wanted in the first place. Moving to LA, living with the person you love, meeting new people—you're inexplicably let down by the situation, or let down by your own perception of it because you thought it was everything you wanted, but yet you still feel displaced." McCoy shares that sentiment: "Sunbather sounds like people who have nothing but are satisfied with life. There's an uplifting quality to it. But New Bermuda is a very tense record."
That tension can immediately be felt in the opening charge of "Brought To The Water", where McCoy excises the triumphant melodicism that typified Sunbather for bleak chord changes set against Clarke's howled first line: "where has my passion gone?" McCoy cites death metal demigods Dissection and Morbid Angel, the blackened death pioneers Behemoth, and Cliff Burton-era Metallica as influences on the new album. Within the ten-minute span of "Brought To The Water", you can hear the ferocity, discord, and dexterity of those heavier predilections, but you can also hear the electrified melancholy of post-hardcore and post-rock. As New Bermuda progresses, Deafheaven travels further outside of their comfort zone, feasting on other niches of underground metal and offsetting the blunt force of their feral rage with more complex and nuanced beauty. On "Luna", the band storms out of the gate with a snarling thrash riff, barrels through their trademark barrage of decimating drums and corrosive guitars, and seamlessly drops down into a morose clean-picked breakdown that would make Johnny Marr proud. A similar sophisticated and subdued pop element kicks off "Baby Blue", before the band abruptly shifts into an amalgam of NWOBHM's anthemic urgency and thrash metal's racing chugs. There's a brief comedown where the band veers into the musique concrete soundscapes and hushed melodrama of early Godspeed You! Black Emperor before "Come Back" resumes the band's merciless assault of stampeding drums and vitriolic guitar harmonies, only to shift mid-song into the somber territories of 4AD's early catalog.
Clarke says that the he came up with the idea of a "New Bermuda" to describe a new destination in life, a nebulous point of arrival, and an unknown future where things get swallowed up and dragged into darkness. It's a premise most aptly demonstrated on the album closer "Gifts For The Earth", where Clarke opens the song with the harrowing lyric "I imagine the gracious, benevolent ritual of Death" before describing a fatalistic descent to the ocean floor. Despite the morbid theme and tortured vocals, the song is perhaps the biggest musical departure for Deafheaven, with metal instrumentation largely excised in favor of lush, stately indie rock. Given Deafheaven's inverse relationship with real world hardship and creative beauty, it's only fitting that the most musically uplifting song on the album is the track about suicide.
Some of the most joyous music in history came from the most impoverished and oppressed societies. Meanwhile, some of the most nihilistic art has come out of countries of affluence and security. Music has always been a salve, an anodyne. But it's also an outlet, a reminder of the ugliness lingering in the shadows of a sterilized world. Ultimately, art is a counterweight, and Deafheaven reinforces this principle by making the most punishing music of their career in the wake of their greatest success.
This Will Destroy You
Since 2004, This Will Destroy You has been forging some of the world's most brutal, dynamic, and precariously visceral instrumental rock. In addition to a vigorous tour schedule, their celebrated discography and critically renowned soundtrack work for feature films and documentaries have earned them a sizable and fervent international following. Another Language, TWDY's fourth full length LP, marks their euphonious return from a prolonged vacuous dark period that threatened to break both the band and the members themselves. Rather than be stifled by their experience TWDY were atomized and subsequently made anew, emerging with a revived energy and reinforced sense of solidarity. As a result, Another Language captures the band at its most potent, honed, and utterly powerful form yet, displaying an edified unity and graduated sense of song-writing, tonal complexity, and studio prowess.
TWDY's new found clarity of vision would come after a state of near dissolution that ensued after the massive success of their 2006 debut Young Mountain and 2008's eponymous follow up. Personal struggles, growing pains, the loss of band members, and a series of close, untimely tragedies set the tone for what would be the band's darkest and most introspective album yet, 2011's Tunnel Blanket. The following two years stress tested the band to the point of ruin; consecutive continent-hopping tours as well as the pressures of matching their previous two albums' accomplishments took a nearly unbearable toll. TWDY's spirits were lifted when both independent filmmakers and Hollywood began to eye their discography for prominent placement in several critically acclaimed films, including the Oscar-winning Moneyball. The arrival of 2013's Live in Reykjavik triple LP was warmly received by fans and critics alike, further rejuvenating the band after years of relentless, grinding tours. In October of 2013 TWDY returned to Elmwood Recording, once again working with engineer John Congleton, fully prepared to construct their next work from the inside out.
From the opening moments of Another Language it is clear that the band has achieved its aim. The reflective opening dialogue of guitar, choral-like organ, and shimmering Rhodes on New Topia float over nuanced warbling swells of tape before being completely disintegrated by a shock wave of blistering guitars, bass, and locomotive poly-rhythms. These peaks and valleys of emotive dynamism are expertly guided by the dexterous drum work of Alex Bhore, who offers up droves of ghost-notes and compounded cadences that energize the album with a fully realized freedom of movement. The band's frequency spectrum now extends to new heights via adornments of tubular bells, microcassette manipulations, and washes of tuned feedback by guitarists Christopher King and Jeremy Galindo while bassist Donovan Jones ensures that the band's roots dig deep into the netherworld of sub-frequencies. An earthy realism can be heard throughout Another Language's nine tracks, as if all of its sound sources have been so heavily disguised under layers signal manipulation that their original form is weathered beyond recognition. Composition duties were shared equally more than ever, offering TWDY an opportunity to delve deeper into the writing process with an unprecedented level of cohesion.
Forced to redefine themselves as individuals, artists, and as a unit, TWDY's Another Language exudes a corporeal sense of the formidable journey, which was overcome in order to arrive at their newly galvanized state of confidence and artistry.
This Will Destroy You is Jeremy Galindo, Christopher King, Donovan Jones, and Alex Bhore. "Another Language" recorded by John Congleton, Alex Bhore, and Christopher King. Mixed by John Congleton except "The Puritain" mixed by Christopher King and Jeremy Galindo. Mastered by Alan Douches. Strings by Jonathan Slade. Art by Land.
Emma Ruth Rundle
Emma Ruth Rundle is a Los Angeles-based accomplished guitarist, singer/songwriter and member of Red Sparowes and Marriages. Her first official solo album, Some Heavy Ocean, presents a collection of impassioned, cathartic songs, exorcising the ghosts of one of life's dark detours. Melancholic, but equally hopeful and accessible, the album wears its emotions on its sleeve. One critic described Rundle's voice as "bone-chilling texture filled to the brim with intent", and a better description is difficult to imagine; when paired with her compelling guitar playing, an enduring spirit takes root.
In 2007, Rundle assembled the self-described folkgaze collective, The Nocturnes, for the purpose of performing her work. The following year, she was drafted into the monolithic post-rock supergroup, Red Sparowes. Touring the world playing the Sparowes' epic brand of instrumental heaviosity sparked a fruitful musical connection with fellow Sparowes guitarist, Greg Burns. When that band commenced a well-deserved hiatus in 2011, she and Burns (on the invitation of Russian Circles) instigated a new group, Marriages, who supported Circles in California and then promptly began recording a debut mini-album, Kitsune (subsequently released by Sargent House in 2012). Meanwhile, Rundle and friends as The Nocturnes reconvened briefly in 2011, issuing a full-length album, Aokigahara, while solo she recorded an album of experimental guitar compositions, tentatively made available online.
What followed was a "dark, difficult time", marked by family problems and personal struggles which, though exhausting emotionally, also incubated Rundle's conviction to use their inherent misery as fuel for expression.And so, in 2013, she literally moved into Sargent House's home studio in Echo Park, sequestering herself for two months while writing and recording what would become Some Heavy Ocean. Itself a taxing experience, the process of creating the album was fraught with problems and setbacks that, naturally, served to fortify its unmistakable air of sadness and desperation. Which isn't to say Some Heavy Ocean isn't equally optimistic or compelling. An apt title if ever one existed, the album swells and crashes, waxes and wanes, ebbing and, yes, flowing - the way all great albums do. The songs twist and sway like kelp forests drunk on its amniotic tide.
The album opens with the brief title track, "Some Heavy Ocean", a nebulous back-looped swirl of elements, like a painter steadily mixing their palette into a swelling cacophany of hues. "Shadows of My Name" arrives promptly, an acoustic hymn propelled by Rundle's breathy, quaking voice, recalling classic artists like Bjork and Sinead O' Connor at their most vulnerable. Emerging from shadow, the track spills open into a symphonic, reverb-tinted soundscape which, once fully envisioned, quickly vanishes. In its place steps "Your Card the Sun", an enigmatic whisper of a song, the brevity of which renders it de facto introduction to the album's next track, us-against-the-world manifesto "Run Forever". Anchored by an infectiously-memorable chorus, the "Run Forever's" timeless, expansive essence suggests Mazzy Star and late-era Swans, which may or may not be accidental. Utilizing Greg Burns' pedal steel, "Haunted Houses" follows a similar path, Rundle imploring the subject of her convictions, "Don't say it's not what you wanted", her sense of disappointment palpable. Side one closes with "Arms I Know So Well", an emotionally-charged appeal for someone to "deliver me from all the evil I do to myself" which, like so much of the album, simply bows out once its point has been made. Nothing on Some Heavy Ocean overstays its welcome. Decidedly more brooding and less percussive, side two opens with "Oh Sarah" followed by "Savage Saint", two subdued tracks punctuated by the string arrangements and additional vocals of Andrea Calderon (who appears elsewhere on the album, always with evocative effect). "We Are All Ghosts" rattles its cage, a thumping, rhythmic treatise on the human condition, before the bleak soundscape of "Living With the Black Dog" signals the album's imminent demise.
Some Heavy Ocean will be available on CD, LP and Download via Sargent House on May 20th, 2014.
$22 ADV $25 DOS
Box Office is open Wednesday-Saturday 12-6pm and All Show Nights, 410-244-0057. Unless otherwise noted Maryland State's 10% Admissions and Amusement Tax is included in the ticket price.