Planning For Burial
13 May 2014 (The Flenser)
Appearing alongside Have A Nice Life, on both Enemies List and on one of the most exciting labels from this year, The Flenser, Planning For Burial has released his second crushing full length, Desideratum, following the 2010 album Leaving. Tom Wasluck has worked as Planning For Burial for around eight years and has a slue of cassettes and splits scattered before and between his two full-length albums. Wasluck has utilized home recordings from the start and has slowly but surely mastered the art of them while vouching for the emotional dexterity they provided in the recording and creating process.
At first glance Desideratum is an unassuming venture of drones and shoegaze guitar work, but dig deeper and the thick level of emotion is unleashed. The album name alone seeks out more feeling than would first appear. As Merriam Webster would have it, desideratum means “something that is needed or wanted” and even “desired as essential.” While the songs themselves beg for no additions, they undeniably swirl around the thick feelings of longing and all that the title represents. The namesake second track off the album embodies these emotions exquisitely. While the haunting dance between the piano and guitar could have done it alone, the lyrics complete it. “I needed you here / I needed you tonight / I’ll always,” the desire for something essential is obvious.
There are easily enough melancholy bands and musicians to go around that layer in the distress and loneliness in the inaudible lyrics, that it takes something else to distinguish a musician from the pack of the depressed. For that the musicianship has to be looked at. Wasluck presents immense droning pieces layered with copious amounts of distortion surrounding the subtle yet prevalent melodies. The beauty really does lie within the sonic presentation itself. While the lyrics call for attention, if you take the time to read them, Wasluck voice serves more as another precise piece to the whole. The sound of it provides more texture than the lyrics do themselves.
Many times lyrics are given particular treatment because of the messages they have, but if they are not distinguishable above the context of the song, it is questionable what part of them is really more important. For a generic large example, metal as a whole can feature harsh screaming vocals with no audible words yet have a lyric book chock full of satanic worshiping verses that were supposably sung. More specifically, the rising band Perfect Pussy is continually praised for the messages that Meredith Graves sings about, but the only reason people know these messages exist is because she has provided lyrics sheets with each release. So which is more important the sonic appeal the human voice can add to the music, or the meaning and ideas murky to the point that they must be spoon-fed to be found?
In Planning For Burial and Perfect Pussy’s case, as well as many other artists, both sides of using the human voice have their value. But to praise either of these two acts because of their message alone is wrong. Very few musicians are presenting completely new concepts lyrically, so the value has to be gained from how they are served to the listener. In essence the somber emotions that Wasluck portrays grow from his firm grasp on expressing himself through the droning music, not through the lyrics. They are almost a redundancy but that is how much his music speaks for itself.
Rating: Loved It