I first came across Father Sky Mother Earth last year, when they released what I think was their second album ‘Across The River of Time’. It was the sort of record that I listened to with interest initially, and then with increasing amazement with how much the music grabbed me and just kept going. As I said at the time when I reviewed it…
It’s something that really will grab you and, while it requires an investment of time and attention from the listener, it will repay that many times over. So if you’re put off by words like ‘drone’ and ‘doom’, don’t be, alternatively if those things are your thing this is going to be one of your key albums of the year.
…and so it proved with the album that kept giving to the extent that it made my half-yearly review. I was well happy, therefore, when Al from Dirty Filthy Records told me that they were going to release the Hamburg duo’s first album on vinyl (‘Across The River of Time’ came out on cassette).
Actually this eponymously titled album can be seen as both coming before and after the one I’ve previously featured given that the band have re-recorded this debut for it’s vinyl release, and as such I’m sure there are some influences from the later recording, but I’m going to stop there before I get wrapped up in some linguistic temporal distortion. This is not irrelevant though because there is something about the music that is out of time. There is a scale to it that feels like a grand narrative in an era when such things are fragmented, two massive arc-like tracks that don’t so much ask for your attention but invade your personal space, look you straight between the eyes and should “LISTEN!”
To appreciate this we should probably step back and look at Niclas (Gerull) and Nico (Seel)’s intentions:
The minimalistic and easy working process…is represented in the album artwork which separates sky and earth…The main part is a symbol to the two string instruments primarily used in this first release. They are also referring to the ‘aerosphere’. This is what keeps Mother Earth alive. Father Sky in the cosmos is a guard and looking at his child in this planet’s ecology. Thank you Father Sky for your presence and Mother Earth for your opportunity to grow.
These are big themes that demand big arrangements, yet there is also something about the two long tracks on this album that are dirty and down to earth. These are not clean representations of our ecology that we so often get… there is nothing that is idealised here. Instead that band use an intriguing mixture of of doom, sludge, psychedelic rock and mediation music to produce something that is at the same time, as I said in my previous review, bleak and beautiful. What didn’t click with me before though was how this paradox is just one within Father Sky Mother Earth’s music bringing these disparate approaches that are simultaneously discordant and harmonious… destructive and creative… protective and unchecked. monolithic yet nuanced…
This, I guess, represents the sort of balance that is to be found in an ecological system; not everything is about growth but rather it about the overall process. So if this album represents these characteristics it too needs to be about balance, about blending together the different and disparate elements of the music to create an atmosphere that reflects these narratives. This, I would say, is done effectively with the overall drone of the pieces being augmented by these other elements in a way that I never find overwhelming, yet do find fractious and challenging.
This is an album, then, that creates an aura of occasion… an impression that something of importance is being represented… the reflection of a climate… a climate that is both under threat and under protection… a portrayal of significant forces at work. It is a set that also somehow represents a moment in time… there’s no beginning or end here, more the feeling of being part of a greater continuum… a story that really is too big to be told… so just give in to it and embrace it and let it enrobe you.
‘Father Sky Mother Earth’ is available from Dirty Filthy records here.