One part ambient drone, one part abrasion and one part melodic guitar, Earthen Sky / Insect Factory‘s split LP offers a variety of sounds to its listeners, each designed for a different mood. One might consider this a yin and yang release, although it’s likely that the artists (San Francisco’s Jacob Long and Baltimore’s Jeff Barsky) are more akin in musical spirit than is evident from these works. They’ve been photographed together drinking beer, so we assume they like each other, just like the sibling coaches of their respective cities’ NFL teams, who faced each other in the most recent Super Bowl.
Early mornings, lazy afternoons and late nights are the right times to play Earthen Sky’s side, a languid, synthesized, side-long piece. Oscillating tones set the pace, replaced by an unobtrusive, heartbeat-like pulse a few minutes in. This transition provides a light moment of surprise, until the synthesizer returns to keep it company. From this point forward, the track provides a reflection of keeping on, although not thriving. The pulse never increases; the fog never lifts. When the pulse retreats at the end, the music returns to its origins, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. The vinyl static (unique to each copy) adds a melancholic coda.
Insect Factory’s side is best suited for the mornings in which one is awakened by construction, as well as afternoons of caffeine addiction and evenings of wild abandon. The first track begins with a high-pitched alarm, which continues to sound throughout with little variation. Minute tones play at the outskirts, acclimating quickly, becoming bolder as they accumulate. A solid drone attempts to break through, and finally does so in the closing minutes with cathedral-like grace. The alarm then recedes, giving way to a peaceful exploration of electric guitar tones: a closing piece more melodic than all that has gone before. After investigating quiet and loud, black and red, the album has wrapped it all in promise, like the new growth that follows the forest fire. (Richard Allen)