If the Beach Boys live in eternal summer, then Thom Wasluck of the one-man band Planning For Burial lives in eternal bummer. With heavily distorted guitar loops and a voice that rarely elevates beyond a medicated murmur, Wasluck creates torrential sheets of pain, walls of sad that are often volcanically loud and other times whisper quiet — sometimes not so much traditional music but more like sonic sweat lodges, pushing you to your limit in order to gain elevation to some higher plain of miserable.
But that’s not to say Planning For Burial is all experiment with no melodic heart. This year’s release Desideratum on Flenser Records begins with the beautiful 8-minute track “Where You Rest Your Head At Night.” In it, layers and layers of distorted guitars build hypnotically (almost John Cage-like at times) as drums pound like a heartbeat. Lulling your eyes to droop, Wasluck’s voice is in the mix somewhere — submerged and tortured. And it isn’t until the denouement of the song, when percussion and a simple but stunning piano melody comes to the foreground, do the disparate elements of the music coalesce into something truly painful, but a gift to endure.
While the rest of the record never does much more than put a black silky bow on the sentiment that “life sucks,” making The Cure, Joy Division and Bauhaus seem relatively chipper, Wasluck is a deft conjurer of noise, a talented conduit of post-millenial malaise that deserves to be listened to.
Exiled in Eugene presents Planning for Burial with Willowbrook, Troubled by Insects and Sophos! 8:30 pm Friday, June 2o, at The Boreal; $5.