The cherishing (or less) of a product like this one depends on your level of fanaticism for the stacking of heavily processed (and, in Dane Johnson’s case, microtonal) electric guitars in order to initiate outlandish, or just overwhelming masses of tones. In the past I would have expressed my opinion about such an offering in a slightly more enthusiastic way. Today – also speaking as a guitarist – finding releases in this area that make me hail them as a creative miracle has become rather difficult.
There’s actually nothing terribly wrong with Beneath The Earth There Are Machines. The probing of the extremities between harmonic complexity, awkward detours and sheer distorted mayhem carried out by Johnson and Domene is somehow entertaining in its occasional whimsicality (“Reentry Capsule”). However, the lingering impression is that things are at times drawn out for a little too long, the obstinate search for “galactically immoderate” timbres and designs eventually leading to the forcing of something that frequently sounds unnatural and low in oxygen. A degree of irony does help, and luckily this component is very noticeable throughout.
In short, an interesting proposal on paper, but only half-successful as far as this listener’s enjoyment is concerned. The musicians’ curricula and the label’s seriousness speak for themselves, though. Thus, we are definitely convinced of the whole’s ultimate honesty, which will give this album a couple of additional chances on my behalf. The “gear-for-guitar-mangling” nerds might have a ball anyway.