Malignant Records (TUMORCD51), 2011
Drone has always been a hit-and-miss experience for me. There’s a fine line between hypnotic and boring, and I’ve found that drone falls on one side or the other for me. While a lot of drone is completely amorphous on its own, it’s usually set within a thematic framework: the title track or album concept, for example. Perhaps my reaction is based on my mindset at the time, true, but I’ve purposefully listened to the same tracks at different times of day, while stressed or un-stressed, and so on, and the experience is always the same. When drone works for me, it’s completely enthralling, transporting me to other places with vivid clarity. When it doesn’t, I’m groping and searching to reach that state, but it never comes. To my mind and my ears, drone is either a portal or an obstacle.
Greg Good’s Terra Sancta project fits both sides of the experience for me. His album Aeon (2004) is, start to finish, among the best drone I’ve ever heard, full of barren revelation and sweeping scope. Disintegration (2008) has brief moments, but largely slips by without notice. The project’s latest release, a three-track EP titled Sunken | Buried | Forgotten – the names of the three tracks composing the title – is alleged to be a bridge between Disintegration and Good’s next release, as the material here didn’t quite fit for whatever he’s planning. Unfortunately for me, S | B | F is the project’s weakest effort.
“Sunken” is 7:32 of a continuous wash backed by what sounds to me, anyway, like distorted electric guitar, reminiscent of Christopher Walton’s TenHornedBeast project, of which I’m unfortunately not a big fan. If I know, or strongly suspect, that a guitar is used, the illusion is broken, and I can’t let myself go. My own shortcoming, I know, but where Good differs from Walton is that “Sunken” doesn’t evolve. The final thirty seconds are just like the first thirty; it feels like a prelude to something that never fully arrives. “Buried” fares a little better, eschewing the guitar and toning down the abrasion, but despite some interesting and drawn-out melodic synths, it doesn’t shift with the drama found throughout Aeon. “Forgotten”, the longest track at close to ten minutes, has a similar undeveloped feel; it’s the EP’s best track, with an ending that strips away the drone completely, but it still struggles to find identity.
If S | B | F is a transition for Good, it’s quite apparent. Good is quite capable, and he didn’t peak too early; the track “Descent (I)” on Kalpamantra’s Malignant Antibodies compliation (2012) is a completely stunning and evocative piece of work that matches Aeon’s epic nature while showing marked structural and emotional evolution. If this track is a hint at what the project has in store, then I’ll gladly accept whatever transition might be necessary. While I have high hopes for future releases by Terra Sancta, this EP is an unremarkable and, dare I say it, quickly forgotten signpost on the side of an intriguing road Good is still building.