[sic] Magazine

Planning For Burial – Leaving

Leaving by Planning for Burial is a bit of an oddity. Or, to be exact, it should be but strangely isn’t. There’s myriad elements at play within its one-hour sphere, many of which – by all rights – should be at odds with one another, but instead work to highlight some of the inner conflicts common to many. Leaving might be easy enough to be impressed by it if you simply consider that it is a debut album, fully home-recorded by one person; yet these details – while relevant – convey only a little about what really impresses.

On the surface, the scope is wide and pulls in from an extensive list of influences and experiences to create something that, at first, comes across as a self-contained expression and exploration. Vocals are distant, often barely discernable and occasionally veer to aggressive and guttural screaming. However, for the most part, they are set back within the music, allowing the music itself to narrate and the vocals to annotate. Amid the resultant swirls of shoegaze, drone, post-rock, metal, psychedelia and ambient sounds is an array of ideas, moments, thoughts and memories that will ultimately find you and leave a lasting impression.

The album opens with ‘Wearing Sadness And Regret Upon Our Faces’. The title alone sets the mood and tone well enough. It pushes achingly slow to near breaking point, but maintains a steady enough build so that I never lost patience with it. ‘Oh Pennsylvania, Your Black Clouds Hang Low’, the third track and one that was immediately favoured, is a strikingly heavy, melodic dirge that despite the weight of its subject matter manages to avoid becoming oppressive.

‘Humming Quietly’, while mildly sharing a thing or two with A Whisper In The Noise ‘s ‘Armament’, takes a slightly different direction into murkier, gothic depths; but again as the track builds and nears its close, the darker elements give way to something decidedly more moving than simple melancholy. ‘Seasons Change So Slowly’, another highlight, is a great psych jam that finishes with glitchy, robotic vocals that are, perhaps interestingly, the most pronounced on the entire album.

The final two tracks together make up just over a third of the album’s running time. ‘Verse/Chorus/Verse’ is another slow and winding number that is certainly appealing, but indulges a little further than the rest. Title track, ‘Leaving’, ends things with a restrained, almost hymnal drone that could just about slip by unnoticed if the opening wasn’t so engaging. It is tuneful, slightly mournful and beautiful, but its lingering 13+ minute running time pushes very near the limit as to how long I’m prepared to watch the light fade before it goes out.

At various points, the album feels like a contained exploration or questioning of what else there is, as well as the complete opposite – a vast study of confined space. There is darkness coupled with a lightness of being, melancholic without being morose, and an almost undefinable reverence to the weight of its burdens, which elevate Leaving beyond merely wallowing in gloom. It is, in fact, rife with contrasts that somehow rarely conflict.

In that sense, the solo efforts of Planning For Burial seem to offer a glimpse of the inner workings of a mind – an invite into that layer beneath opposing forces where truths are realised, celebrated and mourned. While some things are kept at a distance, mood, intent, emotion, memories and indulgences all become prevalent and therefore precise.

These are recognisable as experiences and deeper thoughts that we all share at some point, but rarely do we find a language to convey them with much sense or cohesion. Planning for Burial has found such a language, which is both unique to one person and still highly resonant to those that listen to this increasingly intriguing and effective debut.

Leaving is out now on Enemies List Home Recordings .