Barn Owl - Ancestral Star
The San Francisco duo of Evan Caminiti and Jon Porras have been about since around 2006, releasing several full-lengths and EPs to varying acclaim, but with their Thrill Jockey debut Ancestral Star, Barn Owl have struck drone gold. Being the first time the band have had access to a professional studio along with the time sufficient to make use of it, this has resulted in a free-flowing and beautifully cohesive record exploring all the exciting parts of what this type of music has come to embody.
As opening track ‘Sundown’ begins and segues into ‘Visions in Dust’, it’s immediately apparent that latter-day Earth have been an enormous influence on the band. Those twangy, Americana tinged guitar chords loom ominously at the start, yet they also bring a sense of calm that The Bees Made Honey In The Lions Skull evoked at times. The ten-minute title track is a journey through crunchy distorted drones before moving into more serene and glistening drawn-out notes that lull and hypnotise. During the latter part of the album the tracks begin to get shorter, as the listener is given a taste of more ritualistic sounds as on ‘Awakening’ with its sitar-like strings and bowed guitar mixed with Marielle Jakobson's violin, while ‘Incantation’ introduces meditative vocals and the twinkle of bells to their wide palette. This album seems to have appeared out of nowhere, with Barn Owl creating an astoundingly well crafted and exciting record in an already stagnating and over-populated scene.