Dylan Carlson: Falling with a Thousand Stars & Other Wonders from the House of Albion (Self Release)

New solo disc by the Earth mainman inspired by British folklore is a revelation

Released Jun 22nd, 2016 / By Erick Mertz
Dylan Carlson: Falling with a Thousand Stars & Other Wonders from the House of Albion (Self Release) Dylan Carlson is best known as the lead guitarist and only constant member of the doom/ambient metal collective Earth. In that role, Carlson, along with bands like Sunn O))), has been responsible for the evolution of heavy music from fringe to art form.

On his recently released solo project, as Drcarlsonalbion Falling With A Thousand Stars and Other Wonders From The House of Albion Carlson remains fixed on terra firma (which is consistent with Earth, a band that delves into the conceptual soil for subject) but instead explores an entirely new age angle, folk songs from the British Isles about faeries and knights and evil-eyed witches. These seven tracks, while suggestive of that lore, are instrumentals, perhaps demanding that the listener know something about the source myth.

On “Allison Gross” a song about a knight turned into a worm by a witch, saved from this fate by the Queen of Faeries, Carlson’s guitar is ponderous, exploring the ruins and moss covered stone from the tale. Rather than the dirty guitars characteristic of Earth, Carlson’s lines are a little lighter, isolated, wind swept apropos the source rather than desert sun scorched. The sound on Falling is wide open and spacey, absent percussion or other instrumentation. Each track is Carlson on guitar with feedback for atmosphere. Like his previous soundtrack to Gold this is reliant on hazy tone and imagination.

Although I know some of the mythos at play here, I’m not that familiar and still, these tracks are bold and satisfying. My favorite track, the one that clings to classic melody and boasts the most atmospheric range is “Rose In The Heather”. Carlson masters the reverb here in such a way that it feels like a summer horsefly, trapped between the screen and pane; he makes it visceral, rather than a simple noise device.

Carlson crowd-funded this project, releasing it initially to his Kickstarter donors in October of 2015. On Earth, Carlson works with a crew; on Falling... he’s the helmsman, making this a singular musical experience. This lacks a lot of the grit, or the churning progressions that marks his band’s sound but that absence makes for a revelation.

Carlson is an artist. His impact on heavy music is unsurpassed, perhaps since proto-bands like Black Sabbath and later, The Melvins broke artsy ground here. This album goes a long way toward appreciating his range and ambition.