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Review: Stevie Floyd/Aerial Ruin Split

I put on Stevie Floyd’s new split with Aerial Ruin (out now) one night after the family had gone to bed. It was just me, on the couch, with the quiet whir of the oscillating fan to dispel the summer heat that had lingered far into the night.

My intent was to play the promo for the first time while finishing up some of the day’s work. Instead, I pushed the play button and sat transfixed. This album immediately grabbed my attention and left me sitting on the couch with the forgotten laptop next to me as I cradled my head in my arms and did nothing but listen. That doesn’t happen very often and when it does, a feeling of relief washes over me—relief that there’s still music out there that isn’t trying to be something, isn’t too cool to be vulnerable, or isn’t too worried to be quiet and unassuming. This is where secrets are revealed.

Aerial Ruin is the brainchild of Erik Moggridge of Old Grandad, Drift Of A Curse, and Epidemic. Stevie Floyd is the guitarist behind Dark Castle and Taurus. This split recording isn’t a traditional split… rather than each taking an album side or a handful of songs, Floyd and Moggridge each appear as guest vocalists on select songs off their separate solo recordings with an additional guest appearance from Wrest (Leviathan/Lurker of Chalice). The entirety of the sonic offering is mastered by James Plotkin (OLD, Scorn Khanate, Khlyst etc).

The 12 tracks feature Stevie on two Aerial Ruin tracks, “Less Than Decay”, and “Ascending”; Aerial Ruin on the Stevie tracks “Failure” and the final track “This Has Gone”; and Wrest on the Stevie track “Wrest in Natur”. The remaining songs are each their own material. It begins with Aerial Ruin’s solo folk material, which is compelling because of his songwriting skill. By the time Steve starts singing on the third song, we’re prepped for something new. She melds seamlessly with his gloomy timbre. And there’s a bit of exotica throughout the album that Stevie provides, a dash of crescent moon in the form of her middle eastern guitar arrangements and vocal style. The Wrest track, perhaps predictably, is the darkest of the bunch. It’s an interesting duet, Wrest moans and sighs and Stevie’s lyrics float angelically above a lake of ambient sound.

Stevie has said that she recorded the songs at her home to 8-track, in solitude. That nature of apartness, aloneness, comes across. It’s collaborative, in a sense, but each song sounds like an island. Each song is nothing more than a man, a woman, a guitar, a melody, and lyrics. When it ended, I checked my iTunes to make sure I hadn’t missed anything. And then I started it all over again.

Vanessa Salvia

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