- Sight & Sound
November 13th, 2013
Citing influences from Krautrock to Death Metal to Genesis, Chicago trio Locrian have anchored their sound somewhere between melodic drone and black-metal minimalism. Multi-instrumentalist and one third of Locrian's avant-drone assault, Terence Hannum takes us through his top ten synth tracks.
10. Yes "Machine Messiah" (1980) - Is this the heaviest Yes song? Is this the heaviest Yes album? I think so. I know I am betraying some synth guideline by not picking something with Rick Wakeman on it, but so what? Half way through the track when the acoustic guitar and choral key part come in and that riff (that riff!) cycles through the phaser, you know this is gold (though the record only went silver in the UK). "Dark Satanic Mills" indeed.
9. Prurient "Returning Truth" (2008) - I followed Dominic's output for sometime and while I love where his groups like Vatican Shadow have gone, I always come back to where he incorporated these melancholic arpeggios beneath his torrents of microphone noise and black metal rasps.
8. Cluster & Eno "Shöne Hände" (1977) - I could easily do ten synth tracks just of things Eno was involved with from Roxy Music, Bowie's "The Subterranean", to my holy grail Ambient 1: Music for Airports. This album was a mind opener for me: a collab between two of my favorites, Cluster and Brian Eno. Shimmering and gorgeous.
7. Envenomist "Intersections" (2006) - David Reed is the demented mind behind these haunted synthscapes. Punishing waves of wavering tones reverberate endlessly down the darkest halls. If you even remotely like synthesizers you have to love what he and people Pulse Emitter and Hive Mind are up to.
6. Black Sabbath "You Won't Change Me" (1976) - I had to put metal somewhere and I love this track and this album. I would point to this and a lot of Sabbath stuff as the lineage to records like Iron Maiden's Somewhere in Time or Nocturnus' The Key and even Emperor's In the Nightside Eclipse. By the way, all three are excellent records in my book.
5. John Carpenter "Halloween III OST" (1982) - I can't make a list of my favorite synthesizer moments and leave off John Carpenter's early work. I could easily include something from The Fog or Assault on Precinct 13, but I've been reconsidering Halloween III, which has become one of my favorites. Soundtracks could be separate top ten list for me; Fabio Frizzi, Goblin, Wendy Carlos, etc.
4. Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark "The New Stone Age" (1981) - I love this idea of making something that sounded new (at the time) and calling it something old, and not just old- Neolithic. Anyway, what a burner. When that haunting synth rips in, it still gets me. I also like how they inject noise and found-sounds between their pop songs, similar to Kraftwerk's Radioactivity.
3. Kevin Drumm "Just Lay Down and Forget It" (2009) - I know Kevin Drumm has this reputation for brutal insurmountable walls of dense sound, but I love his shift into ambient. It seems heavenly at first, but if you turn it up and listen closely, it becomes so dense and heavy that the opposing tones almost hurt your ears as the piece evolves.
2. Staccato Du Mal "Walls Fade" (2011) - Bleak and dark moody driven synths- kind of Romantic, but on its own special trip. All analog and definitely one within to the Weird Records dark-wave clan such as Martial Canterel, Xeno & Oaklander that stands out as a bold creative force.
1. Manuel Göttsching "E2-E4" (1984) - A classic, genre-starter and all-around epic synth journey that hypnotizes and transfixes you. I wanted to put on Ashra's New Age of Earth, but go listen to this entire track/album instead. I think this and Klaus Schulze's Irrlicht have to be my desert island records. Both Artists were originally in Ashra Temple together for some trivia.
Locrian's new record, Return to Annihilation, is available now on Relapse Records.
Watch Locrian's new video for the track "Two Moons".
View Locrian's upcoming Tour Dates.