Harvestman - Music For Megaliths (Neurot Recordings)

Challenging, ultimately rewarding new set of psych-drone from frontman of US alt. metallers Neurosis

Released May 18th, 2017 via Neurot Recordings / By Norman Miller
Harvestman - Music For Megaliths (Neurot Recordings) Steve von Till’s third album as Harvestman – his one-man diversion from American avant metal outfit Neurosis – finds him once again at play in his Idaho home studio, building slabs of psych-drone folk-tinged electronica from a diverse array of instrumentation. You don't get much chance to play hurdy gurdy when you're in a metal band...

Though Von Till takes the one-man band approach pioneered by Mike Oldfield way back in the day, he gets a helping hand from Neurosis drummer Jason Roeder on the track Levitation – one of the best of the seven tracks, with trippy vocalisations added to a mid-tempo mesh of guitar and shimmering electronics.

The album title is inspired by Von Till's passion for ruins and ancient sites of worship, which he has described as 'multi-sensory experiences' drawing together time and spirituality. He sees such places as spaces of immersion and transition – which is reflected in listening to tracks here.

While clearly ploughing a psych-drone furrow, each track takes a slightly different line – sometimes nodding to Krautrock, at other times to bleak folk or walls of dark noise.

Ring Of Sentinels is perhaps the standout here – bassy beats and skittering electronic percussion, with a sharp-edged guitar melody cutting through its loping sonic haze, like a grooved up Dead Can Dance. Cromlech, meanwhile, rides waves of advancing and receding resonant drone slashed by Vangelis-style synths that give it the air of a brilliant out-take from the Blade Runner soundtrack.

Von Till conjures a memorably warped bagpipe skirl to open and close The Forest Is Our Temple, with a middle section that veers between angry guitar slashes and softer acoustic guitar ripples.

The dark drone and guitar of Sundown oozes a menacing air of sturm-und-drang that contrasts with the closing White Horse – its melancholy guitar-driven lines, pulsing electronics and gruff incantations like devotional music for a 21st century temple to ambience.

It's never easy listening but at its best there are moments to enthrall.