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The Magic and the Mundane: Earth Moves Discuss the Enigmatic 'Human Intricacy'

Wednesday, 13 November 2019 Written by Matt Mills

Photo: Leo Solti

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” is a phrase so old and frequently utilised that it’s basically become a cliché. However, for Earth Moves, its repeated usage doesn’t make it any less true. On their second album, ‘Human Intricacy’, the noisy wrecking crew create music that’s intentionally ambiguous, designed to draw wildly different reactions from different people.

“I want everyone to relate to this album in their own personal way,” says the band’s lead singer, Jordan Hill. “I didn’t want anything to be too obvious. Whatever people take away from it, there’s no right or wrong. The way that these songs make me feel may make someone else feel a completely different way—that’s what I wanted.”

In an attempt to create something that hits in such a subjective manner, Earth Moves have made an album that inhabits many a grey area. Musically, it’s in its own limbo between post-metal, post-hardcore and shoegaze. While songs like Catatonic are slow crawls reminiscent of the sludgy dread of Isis, others such as Other Voices Other Rooms evoke the frantic despair and solemn calm of Rolo Tomassi. 

Jordan’s lyrics are similarly enigmatic. They’re extended, minutes-long metaphors trapped halfway between reality and fantasy. “There’s no one to save you, you’ll drown,” he mysteriously wails during the creeping opening track Falling Away from the Ground. “Your body’s a place never found.”

“I’m very inspired by [Deftones frontman] Chino Moreno,” the vocalist explains. “There’s a lot of ambiguity to his lyrics; he writes about fantasies or dreams, or just situations he’s invented. The second song on ‘Human Intricacy’, Into the Ether, is about holding onto the past, but I personify that as a ghost—something that you can actually see. I try to make it ‘real’.”

Although, officially, Earth Moves have been actively making music together for just over four years, ‘Human Intricacy’ marks the quartet’s first truly collaborative offering. The album’s full-length predecessor—2016’s ‘The Truth in Our Bodies’—was composed almost completely by guitarist Sam Ricketts, before the idea of Earth Moves as a fully-fledged band was even being entertained. “He wrote 90% of that record on his own,” Jordan recalls.

Before conceiving of Earth Moves in 2015, Ricketts was the guitarist of the snot-nosed, London-based punks Grappler, as well as a part of the depressive rock duo Cloud Boat. He was a man making music at two extremes: it was either loud and fast, or soft and docile, with minimal middle ground.

Then, on April 17 2015, Grappler announced that they would be breaking up. Officially, no reason was given for the abrupt and surprising split, but it came as a blessing in disguise for Ricketts. He suddenly had time to dedicate himself to something new.

His early post-Grappler writing would eventually become the backbone of ‘The Truth in Our Bodies’, and Earth Moves as a whole. Despite being more sophisticated than anything he’d released before, they united the wild emotions of Grappler with the darker, more mellow overtones he’d relished with Cloud Boat.

As his ideas developed, Ricketts sought the help of drummer Gary Marsden, who mans the kit in post-hardcore stalwarts We Never Learned to Live—a band that played innumerable shows with Grappler during their tenure. Naturally, We Never Learned to Live’s bassist, Mark Portnoi, was brought into the fray very shortly after.

“I think Earth Moves was just going to be instrumental at first,” Jordan says. “But Gary and Mark recommended me to Sam. My old band [New York City Heart Attack] played a show with We Never Learned to Live a long time ago, like 2008 or 2009. I sent them a really, really rough vocal demo, but it was enough for them to invite me to their next practice.”

Jordan’s inclusion completed the Earth Moves line-up. His prior background in melodic hardcore gifted the four-piece with a diverse vocal attack, comprised of clean singing as well as despondent screams. From there, what was intended to be a one-off studio album of fine-tuned guitar parts quickly snowballed into an eclectic tour-de-force. Earth Moves played their first live shows just months after coming together, bringing their expansive melodies and mighty riffs to life night after night.

“I think it just felt right,” Jordan explains. “When we were playing together in our rehearsal room, we were happy with the material. We just thought, ‘Why not? We feel good about this, there’s a lot of energy; let’s just hit the road and see how it goes.’ The first gigs went really well, so we did a tour before the album even came out.”

While ‘The Truth in Our Bodies’ was a release centred around the ideas of one musician, ‘Human Intricacy’ is clearly a pillar built by many hands. It’s a more complete, well-rounded and, ultimately, rewarding listen, dancing between its generic poles with mature strides, befitting of the band members’ diverse history.

“It's guitar-led, like ‘The Truth in Our Bodies’, but we all had input this time,” Jordan says. “I think we’ve evolved as a band and that this album deserves people’s time. I think it should be a unique listen for everybody.”

‘Human Intricacy’ is out on November 15 via Truthseeker.

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