Album review: Neil Young - Earth

Neil Young's Earth

Neil Young's Earth - Credit: Archant

He’ll test your patience more than once during the 28-minute wig out Love And Only Love

Young is already known as something of a leftfield audiophile.

The only redeeming feature of 2014’s self-indulgent A Letter Home was the novelty of it being recorded, in ultra-fuzzy 1930s mono, straight to wax in a super-rare recording booth.

Meanwhile he rails against the sonic detail and ephemera lost in MP3s and has developed his own high-quality digital Pono format in response.

With Earth, Young continues to meddle with recording norms. While based on takes from his 2015 tour with The Promise Of The Real, this isn’t a live album in any conventional sense.

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The tour’s performances are overdubbed with a variety of soundbites and field recordings from the natural world - from squeaking bats and swarming bees to howling wolves, ribbiting toads and waves coasting into a far-off bay.

The audience too is treated like a soundbite, inaudible except for some almost surgical splicing when deemed apposite.

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Young even uses Autotune to distort his voice in the trudging, rambling, gospel choir-boosted rock of People Want To Hear About Love.

He’ll test your patience more than once during the 28-minute wig out Love And Only Love, too.

The closing chapter, he exits stage left to a chorus of wildfowl.

But The Promise Of The Real, led by Willie Nelson’s sons Lukas and Micah, do inject a new thunder and raucousness to the revue - Seed Justice has a raw, brute force to match Young’s irrepressible eco-warrior indignation, and the rendition of After The Goldrush feels as hauntingly prescient as it does evocative.

Rating: 3/5 stars

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