The 55 minutes of music contained on A Bureaucratic Desire for Extra-Capsular Extraction are the sum of Earth's very first recording sessions at Smegma Studios in 1990. The band consisted of guitarist Dylan Carlson and bassists Dave Harwell and Joe Preston (the latter also played an Alesis HR-16 drum machine). Two guests vocalists -- Kelly Canary and Kurt Cobain -- helped out on the eight-track sessions. Sub Pop released part of the album as a 35-minute, three-track EP called Extra-Capsular Extraction. The three cuts were titled "Eye Surgery," "Concepts," and "Problems." The rest of the material was shelved, as Earth began working on Earth 2, but the masters were allegedly stolen and unofficially released as a series of bootleg singles. They were also compiled on Sunn Amps and Smashed Guitars. This Southern Lord-issued set marks the first time that the complete sessions have been assembled on one official release, totaling over 55 minutes. Here, the originally issued tracks have been renamed as the two-part "A Bureaucratic Desire for Revenge" (in Carlson's response to the rest having been stolen and released without his consent) and "Problems" re-titled "Ouroboros Is Broken." The remaining four cuts, "Geometry of Murder," "German Dental Work," "Divine and Bright," and "Dissolution 1" fill out the set. Heard as a whole, this set doesn't sound nostalgic but revelatory, for the simple fact that its slow, deliberately restrained brutality is not only engaging, but hypnotic, doom-laden, serpentine, even beautiful. (The chugging midtempo uber-heavy riffing on "Geometry of Murder" is a shock to the system after the sludge of the first three cuts.) Not only is it not difficult to make it through the entire experience, but it's nearly impossible not to. It's true that Earth became more aggressive on Earth 2, but here, the plod, drone, and feedback are nearly narcotic in their downtuned effect, full of unwavering strength and focus. For those who don't already possess these recordings, this edition -- with beautiful artwork by Simon Fowler and package design by Stephen O'Malley -- is well worth the investment of both time and money.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek