“Tower” is a collection of unreleased recordings from local drone-improv giants Planets Around the Sun. The opener and title track begins as a mid-paced, mind-bent psychedelic processional and then dismantles itself into a cloud of swirling, ghostly voices and guitar fuzz before slowly receding into silence. The whole track is soaked in a dense haze, and seems to emerge from out of a great distance to only barely reach the listener’s ears. These recordings are winding and do great justice to the collective’s powerful system of musical exchange.
It is immediately apparent from the first few moments of “Tower” that Ian Paige and company love primal, booming rhythms. The more pulsing and resonant the drumbeat, the better it serves the vision of Planets Around the Sun. They’re a group steeped in mysticism, and as such, the ritualistic earth-shaking percussion at the core of much of their work is integral. Tracks like “Slow Horse” implement crashing cymbals, massive snare hits and primitive bass drum in an attempt to awaken some embryonic unconscious state in both their audience and themselves. For correctly attuned listeners, their murky and cloudy sound will provide ample sonic depth to get lost in.
The two tracks “Antevorta” and “Postvorta” are soupy, free-floating pieces steeped in a calmer side of the Planets’ sound. In this pair of songs, rhythm is downplayed in favor of a more atmospheric and vocally-driven approach to cosmic psychedelia. “Antevorta” is named for a prophetic Roman goddess and “Postvorta” is named for her sister. In mythology, these were respectively the deities of the future and past. As songs, they make great use of loose, searching group vocals and effervescent and twisting guitar parts to create something akin to a 21st century trance song. The two make exquisite bookends for each side of this cassette release. Like their mythical namesakes, these two tracks look backward through Paige’s previous work in the more melodic act White Light, while also looking forward through the more mystic and formless future of Planets as an ensemble.
“Tower” is a brave, if brief, entry into a budding and mysterious discography.