This split knows very little about itself. It knows who it is, but only by name (Earthen Sea on one side, Insect Factory on the other). And it knows what it is (a beautiful vinyl recording with kick ass Gas-homage artwork on it). This split does not, however, know what it is called (no song titles), or exactly what went into the sounds on each side of it (no production credits). It doesn’t know who did the artwork and it’s not even sure what year it came out. So the gaps of information left out of the record’s presentation to me, the listener/reviewer, are going to have to be filled in with my keen listening and supreme review-researching skills to the best of my abilities, which of course I don’t mind employing at all, especially given the excellent musical content that is here.
Earthen Sea is the meditative (also eerie, pensive) product of Jacob Long, and is a wallowing ebb and flow of dynamics that breathe slowly out from a set of synthesizers. It’s a surprising sound for a guy made marginally famous for previous work with noise/art-punk bands like Black Eyes and Mi Ami — that here, he’s painted a barren, burnt sort of landscape that is dusty and dry, swept periodically with soft sonic winds and underlain with a relentless, methodical portion of rhythm from a bass drum voice of some kind. Eventually, the piece morphs itself into a more inviting pool of cooling major chord-consonance, the composition of which has notes sifting through one another, as liquid.
Insect Factory’s half is the sprawling guitar + pedal board + amp music of Jeff Barsky (also of DC noise-rockers, The Plums). Before this side’s final minutes of clean, humbling guitar balladry (seriously lovely, lovely stuff), the listener is met with a confrontational sound made up of a series of consecutive electric shocks that successively interrupt an unfailingly screeching wail. Where Earthen Sea was content to wade in almost exclusively bass tones, Insect Factory floods the headphones with oppositely higher (much, much higher) frequencies, offering an interesting backdrop for patchy melodies to sputter out of Barsky’s straining amplifier. What’s especially nice is how the sum whole of the Insect Factory sound is one that manages to not be so harsh. Despite the words I’ve chosen to describe the sounds (which I think are fairly accurate), this music doesn’t grate or drag nails ‘cross the chalkboard of your brain. Insect Factory paints. It hums. It sings. It’s beautiful. If it hasn’t been made apparent yet, I’ll just go ahead and say straight up that this is a killer split, man, but a suggestion if I might: Don’t be afraid to tell your audience who you are, or what it is you’ve done. They want to know.