Whether you call it sophisticated sludge, doom-trance, post-metal, progressive rock or just fuckin’ loud, no fancy genre name seems quite adequate to describe both the crushing power and the ponderous depth of The Grasshopper Lies Heavy’s wordless music. TLGH’s sound is a dual-natured anomaly—alternately furious and patient, overflowing and empty.
A beloved local staple since its formation in 2005, TGLH is the chief musical vehicle of local artist, teacher, Current contributor and guitar destroyer James Woodard (pictured). The intense four-piece sound project has proved endlessly fruitful, notching a few divergent limited releases, a smattering of swell splits and a terrific full-length, 2010’s Every Man for Himself and God Against All.
On Friday, TGLH celebrates the digital and vinyl release of their sophomore LP All Sadness, Grinning into Flow. The album, out on Minneapolis’ Learning Curve Records, looms large in TGLH’s catalog and stands as the group’s most fully realized work to date.
Woodard, who recently spoke with the Current, says that the meticulously crafted, mastered-for-vinyl All Sadness is “an album for album’s sake,” quickly adding, “I want you to listen to your stereo.” It’s a slow-burning work inspired in part by the craftsmanship of Pink Floyd albums like Meddle and Wish You Were Here. The album’s transcendent A-side is one two-part song (“Marathon I” and “Marathon II”) and 20-plus minutes long, while the B-side features four songs that hover around the five-minute mark. As droning and wandering layers are slowly added throughout “Marathon I,” the track builds tension like a movie score. Then, three minutes and seven seconds into “Marathon II,” the Grasshopper springs into action and all hell breaks loose.
The perfect A-side ends with an arrangement for violin, French horn, trombone, saxophone and piano, contributed by ubiquitous San Antonio ex-pat Marcus Rubio. Rubio tells the Current he was thrilled to work with TLGH, adding that he’s amazed by “how far these guys manage to stretch/destroy post-rock/doom-metal forms while still keeping entire audiences moshing [or] swaying.” Interestingly, this destruction of the identifiable finds its mirror in Woodard’s visual art, which Woodard describes as “abstract or, specifically, non-representational.”
TGLH, also re-releasing Every Man for Himself on vinyl through Crowquill Records on July 26, certainly does destroy its very palette, smearing it tauntingly across the epic scope of the songs. Not surprisingly, the group’s live show is every bit as entrancing as it is convulsion-inducing.
Even if you can’t rock out live to one of SA’s heaviest and most consistently creative outfits, spinning a copy of All Sadness at home will suffice. According to Woodard, the album is a vibrant “collision between the supposedly separate worlds of action and thought, which isn’t supposed to happen.”
The Grasshopper Lies Heavy feat. Marcus Rubio, Michael Sharp, Ants
9pm Fri, Jun 13
The Ten Eleven
1011 Avenue B