PICK OF THE WEEK: Von Till sets new fire for Harvestman with galactic ‘Music for Megaliths’

Photo by Niela Von Till

There are those within metal’s circles whose resumes cannot, and should not, be questioned. Steve Von Till is one of those people, as he has built ample credit and benefit of the doubt being one of the leaders of the great Neurosis, as well as his solo work and other projects in which he’s been involved.

We haven’t heard from Von Till’s Harvestman in seven years now, one of his most atmospheric and musically daring of all his projects, and one that sounds like it gets his head cleared and less chaotic artistic statements into his output. His new, fourth record under that moniker, “Music for Megaliths,” has arrived, and it’s the first full-length we’ve heard from this project since 2010’s “Trinity.” Von Till’s been awfully busy of late, what with Neurosis’ latest album landing last year, touring surrounding that taking up his time, and even delivering another solo outing “A Life Unto Itself” in 2015. Yet here we are, with Von Till riches the past couple years, with another collection of Harvestman songs. This collection spends as much time in the wilderness as it does in the stars. It’s cosmic and rustic, dreamy and droning, and a collection of seven songs that gets inside your mind and intoxicate you. This is music for many settings, but perhaps the most fitting would be at night, gazing into an open, star-filled sky.

“The Forest Is Our Temple” begins the record with guitars jangling and quiet bagpipes wafting over the horizon as the song comes to life. Guitars begin to strike, as things get muddier, and as the mood heads deeper into the woods, accordions join in and add texture. Sunburnt haze burns, while noise like a plane engine hovers overhead, and all elements return and fade out. “Oak Drone” kicks the spacey feel into gear, as steely guitars cut in, and a mesmerizing haze spreads itself thick. The music burns and hovers, sheets of synth fall from the sky, and the track disintegrates. “Rings of Sentinels” has a weird feel to it at the outset, with strange beats thumping, and a psyche-rich flow chilling your brain. Strings create bubbling, while the noises yawn and send themselves to rest. “Cromlech” sounds like it would be a universal odyssey from its name, and that pays off, as cosmic synth pulsates, sounds float high above the earth like the space station, and a hypnotic edge has you staring into dimensions.

“Levitation” has warm beats tapping, humid guitar work stretching, and the charge pushing ahead. A woosh of synth settles over the air, and then smooth singing is situated behind the wall of sound, feeling like a transmission from a dream. Tranquility settles itself, making this feel like a deep dream state, as a gentle psyche lather foams under the cut, and the sound pulsates from ear to ear. Listen to this one on headphones for full impact. “Sundown” has a fit of heavy drone, like a thick black smoke sweeping over the land, and static charges that remind me of the old “Asteroids” Atari game. Quiet guitars arrive beneath noise stabs, and again, a wave of space synth sets in and brings mystery, and everything blows out into star dust. Closer “White Horse” has keys awakening and blaring, while guitars begin to sting. Von Till starts a steely monologue, noting, “The stones call to me just like they always have.” As he continues his dissertation, noise begins to spiral disturbingly, before the track dissolves into the ether.

It’s rare to have an artist such as Von Till, who can express himself in so many different styles and means, and Harvestman remains an inventive one. “Music for Megaliths” should have you dreaming for hours on end, wondering what’s going on as you see those strange celestial bodies millions of miles away from your own. This project might not visit us very regularly, but when it does, it’s a unique experience that sticks with you.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/heathenpsych/

To buy the album, go here: http://neurotrecordings.merchtable.com/

For more on the label, go here: http://neurotrecordings.com/

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