Review Summary: Thom Wasluck feels pain, and you certainly will also.
Planning For Burial is the solo project from Thom Wasluck. Hailing out of New Jersey, Wasluck makes his debut for famous underground label, The Flenser. This label specializes in bands that are experimental, especially if your music has drone influences. Two of the more interesting albums of this year have been released under the label, White Suns' "Totem" and Have a Nice Life's "The Unnatural World." Can Planning For Burial live up to the expectations of those earlier releases? In a word, absolutely.
Drone is always hard to get used to as a new fan of the genre, being full of repeated guitar lines and drum beats that can crush the world in which the music takes place. Planning For Burial gives the listener no break from these heart-breaking sounds on this album. "Desideratum" is an album all about feeling lonely and is spoken from the perspective of a man in dire need of human contact. The lyrics represent the stalking of a lost lover, the loss of the relationship in question, and how sterile love has become in the digital age. Reading into the lyrics is hard due to the heavy distortion, but luckily the lyrics are easily available.
The opening track, Where You Rest Your Head at Night starts off the record as painful as one would expect. A nasty and repetitive guitar riff kicks off the song, and never lets up. The rhythm just builds on top of the guitars, especially heavy piano in the middle and a drone that builds to the fragile ending. The title track comes next, giving a more hopeful vibe to the droning sound. There is a still lingering sense of danger, but the soundscape evokes more feelings of hope than despair. 29 August 12 starts off with a slow-building drum kick and moves into tortured guitar tones that hit hard. Feedback builds up inside the track, giving a distinct feeling of anger. This is easily the heaviest track on the record, and Planning For Burial's most metal-sounding song yet.
Purple is easily the most interesting track, starting off with the reading of a message of someone trying to connect with the narrator. The vocal delivery is sterile as reading words in a facebook message, while the building synthesizers add some dark texture to the song. Golden really saves the finest work for last though, dropping the brutal 16 minute song as the closer. There are many creepy sounds and an ever building guitar line that drive the track forward. The drums kick in late, adding the feeling of depression which builds to the end where the instrumentation dies suddenly as they came in.
The only negatives that can be said about Desideratum is the odd vocal deliveries and slow-moving nature of the album. The vocals are barely present in the tracks, which works for overall mystery of the album. However, I feel that more clear vocal presences would make for a bit more emotional resonance. Most of the songs convey mood well, but the longer songs need more of a lasting presence vocally. The slow-moving nature of Desideratum is a blessing and a curse, being it's finest and worst trait. If you are in the mood for this type of sound, it feels like therapy. However, it really is an album you cannot just pop on and listen to. Even at 37 minutes, the ride is far from easy to make.
Desideratum is a strong example of what drone albums should be. The vocal delivery is serene, the music is spaced-out and therapeutic, and the tracks hit most of the emotional levels that they should. There are some disappointing elements like vocals that fade away too much and a few tracks may be a bit too slow for their own good. However, fans of Drone will love this depressing album for those flaws.