"At four in the morning, I can write some terrifying things." - Jason Molina, September 2003.
When word got out that Molina had scrapped his Songs: Ohia signature and was undertaking two projects -- one with a full band and Albini at the dials, the other a stark solo album -- I was most excited about the latter. Thoughts of the Hecla and Gripper EP came to mind, the record that sparked my love for this most brutal of truth-tellers. It was short, lyrical, and had a shivering clarity. Pyramid Electric Co. is different. The tracks are long, the words do not gush forward in tight packages, and the music no longer gives way to Molina's voice. There is instead a much greater sense of equilibrium between poet and musician.
"That’s just the cold/ That’s the emptiness/ It’s being alone in the dark/ You’ll get used to it" — Pyramid Electric Co.
Darkness always prevails with Molina. Pyramid Electric Co. isn't dark, though. It's harrowing. Seven minutes into the album, his voice fades as though he's singing from a mile away. It's too much, too soon. Surely such bleakness can't be a good thing. Pathos! That's the word I'm looking for. But at the same time, it isn't. The delivery is too matter-of-fact, too genuine to evoke pity or sadness. It is lethargic, yet not dreary -- it grabs you violently and lays you down so, so gently.
This record is many things -- but inspiring? I don't think so. His pained, distant wails and dry, bare guitar playing doesn't make me want to be creative. It's full, unabashed, conscious listening, but it requires a lot of attention. Littered with languageless vocals, Molina seems confident that he can get by on pure emotion. This may be so, but it just becomes painful for the listener. This record is so self-centered, such a solo album that it almost feels intrusive to listen. What does this voyeurism allow us to see? All I can see is an insular soul hunched over a guitar at four in the morning writing terrifying, heart-shattering music.
1. Pyramid Electric Co.
2. Red Comet Dust
3. Division St. Girl
4. Honey, Watch Your Ass
5. Song Of The Road
6. Spectral Alphabet
7. Long Desert Train