House of Low Culture

  • House of Low Culture
  • Submarine Immersion Techniques Vol. 1 (Crowd Control Activities) 2000 
  • Gettin' Sentimental EP7 (Robotic Empire) 2002 
  • Edward's Lament (Neurot) 2003 
  • Live From the House of Low Temperatures [LP] (HydraHead) 2004 

Based in Los Angeles but with roots in Boston, House of Low Culture is an experimental/ambient project led by Isis frontman and HydraHead Records label founder Aaron Turner. On paper, the group resembles a smorgasbord of the more extreme ends of such ’90s indie artifacts as Prazision-era Labradford (“On the Upswing”), condensed Kevin Shields remixes of Mogwai (“Ntrmssn_A,” “Ntrmssn_B”), David Toop sound collages (“Edward’s Intent”) and Main-styled abstraction (“Off You Go”).

Edward’s Lament outweighs its creators’ record collections. Cheekily subtitled An Account of Salvation and Redemption in Nine Movements, it purports to be a concept album about scientist Edward Jessup (who William Hurt portrayed in the 1980 Ken Russell movie Altered States) and his attempts to uncover the origins of man through psychedelic drugs and isolation tanks. The centerpiece, in which Turner and cohorts really let their freak flags fly, is a nearly 20-minute drone epic entitled “…And Now the Man You’ve All Been Waiting For!,” which throws Thomas Koner, the “Sleep” trilogy of Paul Schutze and the mellower end of Aphex Twin into a blender for maximum sensory distortion. Quiet enough to lull one into thinking it might be a lengthy gap between tracks, the subdued pings and low-end whorls force intense concentration; straining to hear it upsets the relation between the ears’ reception of the sound and the brain’s attempts to decode the stimulus. This is psychedelia for the adventurous; a rewarding listen for those seeking solace and mind-expansion. Beautiful, scary and annoying, Edward’s Lament succeeds in pushing the boundaries of what could even be considered music.

Live From the House of Low Temperatures is an extremely limited colored-vinyl 12-inch that has Turner’s excellent design work on the cover and more low-end drone in the grooves.

[Jeff Brown]