Thursday, December 15, 2011

12 Days of Christmetal: Dwellings - Cormorant - 2011

I cannot pretend to have been in the know regarding Cormorant prior to a tweet directing me to an NPR review a couple weeks back. I took the praise with a grain of salt, with any music on NPR generally leaning toward the headier side of world/folk/alt and generally not quite my thing. Still, the review featured a stream of Dwellings in full and, once played, I had to have it. A quick trip to the band's Facebook page offered the CD in its full, tri-fold physical glory as well as the immediate gratification of a full MP3 download for fifteen bucks. Sold. And I've been playing it ever since.

If Heritage is prog proper, Dwellings is a steel-coated Saucerful of Secrets, a rough hewn, wrought-iron A Farewell to Kings. It's metal at its heart but, above all, art - and art for the sake of the love of music. It's extreme at its core and as beautifully complicated as its cover - and as communicated by its well-thought, artfully-composed lyrics, recounting terrible tales in a classic manner as only metal can (think Maiden upped a notch or so) without dipping into common vulgarity or obscene excess (and, yes, there's a lot of the latter I love in metal, too - this is just a different breed of beast).

Another album in the purest sense of the term, I haven't tried once to listen to Dwellings in pieces. A generous near-hour broken into seven songs, it flows as if seamlessly from beginning to end and I cannot imagine not playing it in full. Not just noodling, stock metal leads and riffs abound, layered over acoustic and classical elements, occasional tranquil tempos and the more "traditional" trappings of prog rock. Add to that an organic finish to the production and one can easily imagine Dwellings slithering out the mind of Fripp some forty years back. Dwellings feels like a big record because it is: a huge sound, heavy lyrics and artwork I need in LP format. This record practically begs to played while lying on the floor between the speakers, poring over the sleeve.

Dwellings is independent art at its finest, and a testament to the DIY ethos, unadorned by any label and, despite its brief tenure on my shelves, finds itself stacked high against my 2011 acquisitions. Hell, against any record in my collection. From all time.

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