Early Day Miners

(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )

Placer Found (2000), 6/10
Let Us Garlands Bring (2002), 7/10
Jefferson at Rest (2003), 4/10
All Harm Ends Here (2005), 4/10
Offshore (2006), 6/10
The Treatment (2009), 4/10
Night People (2011), 4/10

Indiana's Early Day Miners, fronted by guitarist Daniel Burton, packed brooding lengthy slocore ruminations that evoked Red House Painters, Talk Talk and Godspeed You Black Emperor.

Placer Found (Western Vinyl, 2000) was still rudimentary, but, when it didn't indulge in slow, languid songs for the sake of playing languid and slow songs, it achieved a sort of gritty, lo-fi grandeur. The nine-minute drum-less instrumental In These Hills is an abstract transcendent soundscape woven out of tiny guitar chords and electronic distortions. The seven-minute Stanwix sounds like the last breath of a dying man (at an appropriately funeral pace). For half of its 12 minutes, Desert Cantos straddles the line between psychedelic trance, shamanic invocation, Buddhist monk meditation, and country-music lament (later it turns into a rather trivial, repetitive guitar elegy).

The mostly instrumental follow-up Let Us Garlands Bring (Secretly Canadian, 2002), is a collection of chamber poems, a journey of moods, a gallery of delicate atmospheres. After the dreamy, anemic chamber ballad Centralia, that starts the album at the lowest energy level, the seven-minute Santa Carolina intones a gentle lullaby fueled by jangling and shoegazing guitar. The eight-minute Offshore is sandwiched between a feeble harmonica breath and a laconic kind of free-form jamming that sounds like a Neil Young record played at slower, warping speed. The nine-minute Summer Ends is the closest thing to a country ballad, with a melody that has the agonizing pathos of Boudleaux Bryant's Love Hurts and a lengthy coda of hypnotically repetitive guitar phrases. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the highly languid and highly lysergic Silvergate, the nadir of coherence, harks back to the demented and most spaced-out acid-rock of the 1960s; while the idyllic, Zen-trance inspired Autumn Wake, decorated with a romancing violin, borders on new-age music. By the time these intense musical meditations reach the 18-minute closer, A Common Wealth, there is nothing else to say. The whispering and chanting simply drifts and waltzs, repeating itself like a musical mandala or a moebius strip, with no end in sight. It takes 13 minutes to fade away to almost silence. The last three minutes simply add drones and rumbles.

Jefferson at Rest (2003) was a disappointingly lame work by comparison with its two predecessors, full of yawn-inspiring ballads like Awake and New Holland. The mini-outburst of the REM-esque Wheeling comes as a relief.

All Harm Ends Here (2005) was an even less ambitious work, with only one song worth the price (the gently atmospheric Purest Red).

Offshore (Secretely Canadian, 2006) returned to the format of longer, trancey pieces. A hard-rocking riff repeated manically over quasi-voodoo drumming creates the relentless tension of the nine-minute Land of Pale Saints until the melody begins to sound like a Tibetan mantra and then morphs into ecstatic glissandoes. prayer or invocation. The other nine-minute juggernaut, Hymn Beneath the Palisades, is a more sinister beast, introduced by rumbling dissonance and ghostly drones, and then ripped apart by thundering drums and stiletto-like guitar distortions. Unfortunately, the shorter songs sound like leftovers from the previous album, which wasn't exactly their best.

The Treatment (2009), featuring new guitarist John Dawson and new drummer Marty Sprowles, marked a second turn towards a simpler and more compact sound (the organ-tinged country-pop elegy In The Fire, the breezy shoegaze-pop of So Slowly).

Night People (Western Vinyl, 2011) continued in that mediocre poppy vein.

EDM's bassist Jonathan Richardson debuted solo with the instrumental album Babies In The Bardo (2020).

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(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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