Thom Brookes calls Earthworks “a soundtrack for the middle of nowhere,” but the sounds are better described as applicable to the entire earth. With references to the Bible and geology, it even manages to straddle the line between creationism and evolution. And who’s to say we can’t have both?
Thunder rumbles in the opener “Out of the Dark Sea,” reflecting the origins of the planet: in the beginning, the earth was formless and desolate, and the spirit of God was moving over the face of the water. By “Handfuls of Clay,” the water sounds are reduced to lapping waves. The earth is cooling, preparing for life. Rising strings add a tone of purity: sunlight, simplicity, inspiration. The closing seconds of piano offer order in the midst of chaos. Human footsteps can be heard in “Each Morning, a Miracle of Color,” walking beside a quiet stream as birds flutter about. The Garden of Eden? The title of the ensuing piece – “There Has To Be a Heaven,” cements the association, while the “The Way Love Emerges” takes the listener into the New Testament, or for those more scientifically-minded, the third rung of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. A happy child greets his father; vinyl static surrounds the pair with a comforting sheen.
The second half of the album is less linear; in fact, it can be regarded as an arc, beginning and ending with “Tumulus,” which refers to a burial mound. This section also includes nods to Cesair (in Celtic mythology, the leader of the first Irish invasion) and a primitive half-moon artifact (“Lunulus,” also the visible part of the fingernail). The second half is more sedate than the first, but topically mirrors the opening cycle, swirling in sediment and sea. As the waves lap against the shores of “Béarra,” one remembers “Handfuls of Clay,” the created now visiting the creation.
Drombeg’s album is perfect for pagan and pilgrim alike, a love letter to the water and clay of man and the boundary between ocean and earth. (Richard Allen)