The Sound of Dreams
There is an inherently unique quality to the realm of music. It is a strange sort of collaborative isolation, both creatively and in terms of perception: no two people ever truly glean the exact same thing from the exact same sound. From the creative end, there are arenas within which some people are uniquely suited to work and any breaking from that arena comes across as insincere and pandering. Yet the most compelling trait possessed by music is its tie to the ethereal and the land of dreams. Music is the most readily capable art form of evoking a dreamlike state otherwise only accomplishable through actual sleep or questionable drug usage. On Music for Megaliths, ambient rocker outfit Harvestman attempt to reach into the land of dreams and pull out something unique.
Harvestman possesses a rich musical history, their sole member being Steve Von Till, the guitarist/vocalist of legendary drone act Neurosis. It also includes contributions from Jason Roeder, the drummer of Neurosis. In terms of musical content, Music for Megaliths may not be the most interesting album of the year. It often persists along the line of a single drone with guitars dreamily plucked atop it, almost in the same way as a band like Real Estate, but significantly less dynamic. The instruments do have some variation though, the song “Cromlech” is extremely wispy, almost not there, flitting between existence and oblivion so carefully that it might dissipate into dust should the listener’s attention stray anywhere for even a moment. On the other end of the album’s relatively limited spectrum is “Levitation,” which is far more psych rock in tone and execution, with maybe even a hint of drone music floating within it. The guitars are fuzzed out and distorted to the point of rattling and vocals enter the mix for the first time in the record. Sadly these items do not make the album perfect. The vocals are unfortunately lackluster and don’t truly add to the solid atmosphere built by the guitars and synth lines. This is largely corrected on “Sundown,” which features a static line and droning guitars that create a menacing sonic landscape akin to that of a nightmare. “Sundown” is a monstrous standout that nearly saves the entire album from the clutches of obscurity.
Music for Megaliths is certainly no failure, but, indeed, it is also no great accomplishment. Much like “Cromlech,” the whole album suffers from this wispy, easily forgettable quality that will allow it to exit the mind of the listener nearly as soon as it has entered. However, those that can focus will find a rewarding atmosphere that will softly lower them down into the realm of dreams, whether waking or asleep. Just beware the potential for nightmares.