As a tide recedes with purpose relative to where the universe would throb it against more concrete things so flows the atmospheric dalliance of Earth, Texas stranded psychic commune Low Flying Hawks. Their third release, ‘Anxious Ghosts’, recedes without muscle and rides the primitive reflexes of antagonistic anatomical structures to pull out as it begins. Two cycles proceed within the waveform, a less grand a recession each time as a heavier sludge-heaved and stargazing growl follows until we are face-to-face. Is it some kind of romance, a point of meditative understanding, or a catharsis for the limit we have reached together? A bit of each is felt as these stoney wanderings curl up into hugs and flex out into backhanded smacks to the chest.
Spiritually intense in the moment and calmly avoidant in reflection is the most profound description of the Low Flying Hawks that I could muster. They are long-weaving and porous, lumbering but liquid in tone and lubricated thusly to offer no friction-burnt rough edges. ‘Anxious Ghosts’ is slyly heavy, as if I’d put Snail‘s ‘Feral’ LP on half-speed, as it creeps up and on you with glistening post-rock-cum-psychedelia and bubbler-worthy desert rock then snaps towards Space Witch-esque psych-sludge from an almost post-metal point of view. The trip across the half hour of it all is as pronounced and effective enough as a journey of stylized existentialism that it felt like a full-length experience even at just thirty minutes.
Born out of Mexico City, Mexico but with no great fealty to scene, movement or stylistic niche the dark psychedelic duo responsible for Low Flying Ghosts are somewhat mysterious if only because we’ve only gotten music, initials, and photos thus far. The first two full-lengths had remarked that EHA is the main songwriter but both perform vocals, guitar, and some bass guitars on each recording and the collaboration was a long time coming prior to their string of recordings thus far. The buzz around the project’s mixture of psychedelic doom, post-rock, atmospheric sludge, and shoegazing spiritus lands on their session rhythm section between bassist Trevor Dunn (Fantômas, ex-Mr. Bungle, ex-Melvins) and drummer Dale Crover (Melvins, Shrinebuilder) who are deserved of the hype their presence would create. The main event for my taste is just how far they’ve pushed into darkness without yet fully resembling extreme metal.
The previously suggested yet-to-be trilogy of ‘Kōfuku’ (2016) and ‘Genkaku’ (2017) doesn’t appear thematically related to ‘Anxious Ghosts’ but the EP does collect the droning soul and psychedelic stomp of each respective album into a fresher post-music sound that appears naturally indicative of the way forward for the project. The high standards of musicianship and almost hallucinatory layering of the production (again via Toshi Kasai @ Sound of Sirens) become a huge draw when returning to any Low Flying Hawks release. All manner of sound effects, synth, voices, and overdubs allow every moment to be filled with some measure of subtle detail. What appears sparse and atmospheric on first impression eventually blooms across several listens and this is even more noticeable in the builds towards heaviness that define the listening experience of ‘Anxious Ghosts’. It is successfully atmospheric in this sense but not as forcefully rocked compared to their prior releases as a result.
The warmly cynical cataclysm of the self that occurs within ‘Anxious Ghosts’ is appreciably different but entirely related to past Low Flying Hawks releases and if it does indicate a new evolution of their sound I’m all for it and would recommend spinning it. They’ll surely grab fans of more stoic and ‘epic’ stoner doom/post-metal variants as well as psychedelic doom fans who’re keen on desert rock and neo-psychedelia as well. Moderately high recommendation. For preview I’d suggest starting with “Somewhere” parts one and two just to see how much change they’ve exacted upon the project and then jump over to “Doors to Nowhere” for a kick of desert-boogie doom that’ll feel familiar but new.
The thin ice of modern life. 3.75/5.0
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