If music is meant to make you feel an array of emotions, the new, third album from Harvestman – aka Neurosis singer/guitarist Steve Von Till – is music everyone should listen to. Music For Megaliths (Neurot) dishes up a feast of ambience, walking the line between folk, drone, mediation music, it quietly moves between styles without ever firmly defining itself.
Almost entirely a one-man show, Von Till plays everything from guitars and synthesizers to the hurdy-gurdy. The only other presence on the album is a brief appearance of Neurosis drummer Jason Roeder. Von Till’s skill here seems to be the ability to combine endless layers of minimalism, which, despite having an aura of calm about it, constantly emits a sense of eerie foreboding.
‘The Forest Is Our Temple’ is great opening track: subtle layers of atmospherics which combine all the best aspects of the rest of the album. It’s probably the most complete song on the album while the rest explore different aspects of the sound. It’s an incredibly sombre scene created by simple guitar refrains, traditional instruments combining with synths, and slow build up to new movements which is ultimately allows just to fade away.
It’s absorbing while at the same time incredibly intransient; moments come and go without fanfare, but together build a lasting and sombre impression. This kind of music is incredibly hard to get right; too little and it’s boring, too much and the subtlety is lost. Von Till treads this line perfectly.
‘Oak Drone’ combines synth with interjections of poignant guitar. Despite its short length and almost complete absence of sound ‘Cromlech’ feels incredibly peaceful yet claustrophobic. ‘Levitation’ is the first time we’re introduced to something as conformist as a drumbeat, and the first time we hear a human voice: Von Till’s distance, haunting chants are almost beautifully melancholic. ‘Sundown’ is the heaviest track by normal standards, filled with distortion and the only one which strays into traditional drone territory. White Horse combines piercing guitar and spoken word passages.
Ambient drone isn’t for everyone, but if approached in the right mindset, it can be a very rewarding listen. Introspective music for lonely, meditative moments. Music For Megaliths is heavy on atmospherics, if not instrumentation. Ambient drone isn’t for everyone, but if approached in the right mindset, it can be a very rewarding listen.