04 May 2023 - Thorsten
Ambient | Drone | Consouling Sounds | Release date: 28 Apr 2023 | Favorite song: Monument
How to talk about an album that is the result of a connection 40 years old? Rant about the time passed? Not our style. List all the illustrious projects both collaborators been in? Too space-consuming. So how to talk about Loud as Giants and their debut record Empty Homes? Easy. Let’s have a short look at the accolades and a long listen to the music!
Loud as Giants is the result of a long-standing mutual fountain of respect both musicians share since having been part of the same tape-trading scene in the early 80s, when they were driven by a love for the Post-Punk and early Industrial scene at the time. And that certain DIY sense is also noticeable in Empty Homes, for they did not hire a mastering genius as one might have thought. They used a photograph easily available at home as the wife of the Belgian guitarist is a really good photographer and he had intended to use one of the pictures from that series for a long time and now it fit.
Fast forward 40 years into the future. Both met for the first time several years ago and claimed their mutual love for the other’s oeuvre ever since and already collaborated in one way or another since that initial meeting and then, 2020 the world found itself in the merciless grip of Covid19 and our two musicians found themselves with a lot of time on their hands and a void that needed filling, so they decided to get this new baby on the road. While sending the data to and fro, adding bits and pieces here and there, tweaking the songs a bit, and then settling on the overall soundscape to keep that tiny bit of grit and dirt and not to aim for a clean, clear production – the four structures grew into the songs we now find on this record: ”Monument”, “Estranged”, “Room Three” and ”Isolation”. Each of the tracks in a certain way is a reflection of these two years 2020 to 2022. Although at first it sounds a bit paradoxical, but if everybody is at home all the time, if nobody can leave the house unless for a few strange moments of, for example, grocery shopping – if there is no human interaction and no visiting friends and family, then the house is occupied by a group of people which very often find no new topic to talk about, no new emotion to fill the gap amidst them. The houses and people are lacking “input” - the homes lose their idea of shelter and become in some way an empty prison. Empty because of the lack of rejuvenating, refreshing human interaction. Or did you find yourself opening the window and screaming at the neighbor across the streets “Hey man, how is your day?” - you already knew the answer. Nothing new under the sun. Emptiness all abound and all around.
When ”Monument” opens the record in all its glorious shoegazey ambientness then one can witness that slight bit of hope, that tiny ray of sunshine in it. One melodic line of beating guitar points pulsating over the course of these 12:30 minutes is very bright, and in a way radiates and ebbs away. The moment grips us by the throat, infuses our dullness with some warmth and shouts “Hey man, you ain’t dead! Get a grip, play with your kid!” Throughout the course of the roughly 47 minutes, both have created songs that carry their industrial basis on their sleeves. The pumping basslines, sometimes closer to Post-Punk than one wants to admit, plus the vast, open array of levels within the songs might become most obvious on ”Isolation” (no, not a Joy Division-cover albeit the same name) when the beats bounce back and forth from the droney ambient walls. And when the glitter falls upon the tracks and the eclectic, energetic near techno-ish kicks come up, one must probably hold on tight onto one’s knees if you do not want to find yourself dancing underneath the table with your feet and hips or above it with your elbows and head. The audience can basically feel the energy, thoughtfulness and magic both put into these four tracks.
Empty Homes is surely a really good record for any situation, whether alone or in a group, at home or on the meadows next to the river, in the early morning or the late evening. The record simply fits in a lot of contexts and situations. Amazingly well-done by these two great artists. Oh, by the way, have I already mentioned their names? Dirk Serries and Justin K. Broadrick.