KFJC 89.7FM
Album Review

Burial Hex – “Hierophant, The” – [Handmade Birds]

whngr   3/14/2020   12-inch, A Library

A pensive and surreal excursion over a sultry dreamscape comprised of rolling fields of long-grass that bend against a gentle wind like the breath of a dying god, knolls of indifference dotted with gilded copses of oak trees, festooned with gossamer webs of regret and doubt. Timid worrying brooks like forgotten tears that course wistfully through archaic ravines like the lines that were once traced over the body of a long-lost lover. Towards sprawling meditative oceans whose nacreous waves crash upon rocky coasts, inimical under the hyalescent sky. Somewhere amidst this oneiric terrain lies an ancient catacomb and within its crumbling walls roams the Minotaur, the last of all living beasts, ageless and eternal.
Though I was only superficially cognizant of Burial Hex, in part due to the sprawling and voluminous magnitude of his releases, it still was apparent that The Hierophant was a departure for Clay Ruby. While continuing to blend electronic and conventional instrumentation, avant-garde and noise elements, haunting plaintive vocals, bells, piano, heavily effected guitar and bass guitar, synthesizer, drums, brass, strings both bowed and plucked; there now appear to be lesser drawn upon and even novel arrows in his quiver. Forlorn howling and shrieking, guttural articulation, off-pitch crooning ,crickets, whispers, and wind. Mixed adeptly by the seemingly ubiquitous James Plotkin, this outing from 2014 avoids comfortable categorization.
These five compositions feel deeply scrutinized with a profound awareness of phrasing, there is no hint of improvisation. Every sound has purpose and the billowing space between these sounds give them life and punctuation reminding one of Whitman, Joyce, or Chaucer. Like the parable of Icarus it draws an arc towards an impossibly lofty target, where even when the mark is missed, a pivotal tale is told for all men that follow. A lesson for humanity so that it might grow and a offer a warding from ill-fated paths charted with hubris and folly. And though I may have thought that this album had at times missed its target, perhaps appearing pretentious or grandiose, I found after several listens I began to soften and then to be captivated. After many more it seemed, the issue was not with The Hierophant but with myself. That in fact, it was a riddle to be solved, and that I was a part of the magnificent solution. 

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