Early Day Miners


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While the Early Day Miners' song "Offshore," from the 2002 album Let Us Garlands Bring, is an eight-minute piece, sad and slow and contemplative, a brief look into the melancholy of life, their album Offshore is the continuous six-song immersion into longing and solitude and desire, something like an Eno soundscape (though there are vocal tracks) but with electric guitars and a live band. There's a dark and mechanical nature to the record, like a train barreling through a cold, deserted plain as the sun begins its long descent, travelers sitting silently in empty cars staring out into the gloaming. And though there's a lot of layering within the songs (besides the regular band, Early Day Miners use Dan Matz from Windsor for the Derby on guitar, and Darin Gray from Unwed Sailor and Johnathon Ford on prepared and electric bass, respectively), there's still an emptiness, or at least a sense of empty space, that comes with the reverby guitar lines, the echoing chords, and the airy vocals from Daniel Burton and guest Amber Webber (from Black Mountain). "Give into temptation," Burton softly pleads in "Sans Revival," though what exactly he's referring to, or if his words were even supposed to be understood, supposed to function as something other than just another sound that Tortoise's John McEntire could mix into the final project, is a little unclear. Not that this matters; it just adds to the mystery of Offshore, and as the album goes along it's hard not to get entranced by its power. By the time the final song, "Hymn Beneath the Palisades," commences and the guitars begin to slowly build in intensity, the desire for resolution, for some sort of catharsis, begins too to augment. It never comes, however. The music grows and screams for something -- distortion, cacophony, anything to bring the past half-hour to some kind of closure -- but instead the train brakes suddenly as it sees the car sitting on the tracks, it nears, the screech of metal stuns the passengers, they wait for impact and...it ends with staccato drums before anyone finds out what happens.

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