Common Eider, King Eider - Shrines for the Unwanted, Respite for the Cast Asi [Cold Spring Records - 2017]Following last years' evocative Extinction, San Francisco's Common Eider, King Eider are back with their latest ritualistic offering, Shrines for the Unwanted, Respite for the Cast Aside. Like a dark ambient travelogue through a bleak and uninhabited landscape, Common Eider, King Eider quickly build up an engaging atmosphere, and use their massive talents to expand it to an impressive scope. With only four tracks on display, Shrines makes the most of its run time and enthralls with each intriguing turn.
Opening the doors with "Cast Out to the Wolves to be Devoured," a cold, bleak, foggy landscape slowly swirls forth and rises to surround the listener. Ritualistic ringing like a Tibetan singing bowl rite plays out and grows to fill the space before "Cast" slowly fades out, leaving a haunting memory in one's mind. The icy tones continue to chill on "The Dark Winter." Languid strings drone and stretch, dancing forth in an unhurried ballet of dark desolation. Adding a brooding, almost prehistoric quality to the sound, the strings increase the scope of Shrines, and deepen the impact that this evocative journey calls forth. Paring back the layers that have thickened, "Elk Tongue" stands as a reminder that not all songs need to be rife with action, and sometimes saying very little speaks volumes. The last half of Shrines takes the form of one long track, "Litha." Combining the more stark form of "Elk Tongue" with a cavernous chant, "Litha" allows Common Eider, King Eider an open platform for rough screams that make this ritual take an even darker turn. Slow and grim, "Litha" is a wonderful second half that makes the most of previous tones and vibes, and really puts forth the overall feeling of Shrines.
Shrines for the Unwanted, Respite for the Cast Aside by Common Eider, King Eider is not only a mouthful, it's an earful. Dark and bleak, but luxurious and evocative, Shrines plays like a haunting ritual from a cold, dark past. Just in time for Winter to descend, Common Eider, King Eider's latest is a wonderful sonic vision of a long distant past. Stoke your fire, pull up a chair, and settle in.Paul Casey