New York Music Daily

Love's the Only Engine of Survival

A Look Back at a Dark, Underrated Gem by Epic New York Art-Rock Band Of Earth

Almost a decade ago, New York art-rockers Of Earth released their debut album, one of the few records that deserves mention alongside visionary, sweeping Australian psychedelic group the Church . Of Earth’s follow-up, The Monarch, from 2013 – still available as a name-your-price download at Bandcamp – is their Wish You Were Here, a dark, mighty masterpiece awash in layer upon layer of guitar and keyboard orchestration. It doesn’t quite hit the majesty of their first record, but it’s awful close, and there isn’t a weak song on it.

“Digging the truth from the shelters…we can murder the might, and into the night,” singer/bassist Rob De Luca intones over a dark, sweeping backdrop as the opening track, Sweep the Fire gets underway. Drummer Mike May’s groove subtly changes shape, alluding to a wryly staggered Led Zep riff.

The Prototype is a briskly stomping, orchestrated metal-flavored anthem, bringing to mind searingyguitarist Keith Otten‘s legendary/obscure zeroes band the Gotham 4. The title track has De Luca’s cold, enigmatically processed vocals over a backbeat drive that grows more intense: 90s stadium rock bands like Ride come to mind, at least until Paul Casanova’s multitracked guitars explode over the bridge.

Queen of the Apocalypse is a bitter, towering kiss-off anthem, the fluttering deep-space orchestration  of Casanova and keyboardist Rick Chiarello rising to a crushing peak on the chorus. Open Letter/Everything is a diptych, its bass-driven, circling, suspenseful, 17 Pygmies-ish spacerock giving way to slow, vast Floydian menace, the organ and guitars massing over De Luca’s tersely growling lines. Casanova’s Spanish guitar solo half-buried in the mix is a neat and subtle touch.

Further Than Rome is spare, desolate and driftingly hypnotic, anchored by tersely slipsliding bass and lingering, bell-like guitar. This loosely connected, bitter concept album winds up with Where Did It All Go: imagine Pink Floyd covering the Stooges, with a searing outro that could have gone on for twice as long as it does. There’s also an alternate mix of the opening cut at the end of the record. This isn’t stereotypical Halloween music, but it’s also relentlessly dark. Fans of towering, majestic psychedelic rock grandeur: Floyd, the Church and David Bowie’s most psychedelic early 70s albums, like Diamond Dogs – will not be disappointed. It’s a shock this band didn’t go further than they did.

Trippy, Kinetic, Lavishly Orchestrated Sounds and an Alphabet City Gig by Gadadu

Gadadu are sort of a slower My Brightest Diamond, or a more soul-influenced Arc Iris. Strings shimmer and shine, layers of acoustic and electronic keys mingle and echo, and the songs on their new album Outer Song – streaming at Bandcamp – don’t follow any standard verse/chorus pattern. They’re bringing their lush, often hypnotic art-rock swirl and pulse to an intimate gig at the Treehouse at 2A on Oct 26 at 10ish. Be aware that there’s a $12 cover.

When’s the last time you heard a majestically string-fueled trip-hop anthem with a prepared piano solo? That’s the opening track, The Lion, Nicki Adams supplying that alongside blippy electric piano, the Rhythm Method String Quartet providing the sheen above frontwoman/violist Hannah Selin’s cutting, slightly acidic vocals.

Exquisite Corpse is a coy funhouse mirror pastiche shifting suddenly and unexpectedly between psychedelic soul, a New Orleans groove, kinetic My Brightest Diamond art-rock, and trip-hop. Patrick Adams’ trumpet wafts and then blazes through the cloudbanks of orchestration.

The cover of the Beatles’ Julia is an odd choice, but the ensemble redeem themselves with both psychedelic and orchestral touches, drummer Arthur Vint propelling the group to greater heights than Paul McCartney probably ever imagined.

Selin’s pizzicato viola sparkles in tandem with her enticing vocals and the electric piano as the simply titled Life gets underway, shifting between a scurrying brightness and enveloping atmospherics. Tony Park’s clarinet contrasts with dancing, pointillistic keys amid the washes of strings in Makeshift Constellations, which could be a lavishly orchestrated early Linda Draper tune.

Chided has some of the album’s most striking, swelling and shivery orchestration: it’s the mightiest  track here, deflecting subtly into a bossa-inflected groove with the trumpet soaring overhead.

Selin’s playfully abstruse lyrical imagery reaches a savagely allusive focus in Train Blues:

Sold to brand-new folksy lemon daffodils with sorbet
Snooked-out lofts ate octopus allowed by the free trade-owned
Whistle for the wind to take me on a journey
Sand and feelings fly, the draft is in a hurry
Take me off this train

Its towering sway and dissociative train-terminal sonics bring to mind singer/keyboardist Sara McDonald’s mighty NYChillharmonic. Daniel Stein’s bass rises gracefully to puncture the swirl in the album’s final cut, Bay Songs, an ensemble of cellist Valeriya Sholokhova, violinists Sana Nagano and Gabe Valle and clarinetist Hila Zamir supplying alternately vast and stark dynamics. There’s a lot to get lost in here.