It’s everything but quiet
Making music is a lot of work, but it can be just as much work just to listen to it. Not to say that every album is some largely arduous tar pit to trudge through, but not every album is an aural walk in the park. Some might consider the debut album of Australian musician David Coen, who plays as Sow Discord, to be in that vein, especially if anyone went into it with expectation that it would sound like the work he’s done with his old doom band Whitehorse. Sow Discord, while still incredibly heavy, falls more under the umbrella of grim electronic and harsh noise, relying on the emotion chaotic soundscapes can create. That’s exactly what people will find on Quiet Earth—sounds that recall overwhelming anxiety and dread on first listen. Yet, when you take some time with the material, the subtle nuances and easter eggs of audio offer layers and layers of things to appreciate.
Take the things that jolt you into attention, like the jarring sample of a morning alarm that goes off toward the end of “Ruler,” leading into abrasive industrial tones that bounce back and forth between chest caving pounds and ear piercing whirrs on “Everything Has Been Exhausted.” Coen does quite well in exhibiting such dread on his own, but that doesn’t mean the contributions he has on the record aren’t for naught. Even with everything going on in “Watching From The Centre,” the deep rumbles of Primitive Man/Many Blessings vocalist and guitarist Ethan McCarthy still manage to stand out in “Jigsaw wants to play a game”-like horror. On the opposite end of the spectrum, at least, from a vocal perspective, is “An Eroded Fortune.” This song contains the ever recognizable bawls of The Body’s Chip King, as well as Lee Buford’s particular approach to thrums and pulsations.
Coen ends on a somewhat gentler note with “The World Looks On With Pity And Scorn,” but the momentum he built throughout the rest of Quiet Earth isn’t lost. If anything, it’s enhanced, leaving behind it a restlessness that warrants a flight response. There’s anticipation that people will feel, and hopefully it’s something the next Sow Discord record can help settle.