dylan carlson

Although he played Strats and Teles on Conquistador, and currently prefers them for the road, Dylan Carlson has also wrapped his hands around the necks of Gibson Les Pauls, including this Standard model and the Gary Moore BFG he played circa his 2016 duo album with Coleman Grey, Falling with a Thousand Stars and Other Wonders from the House of Albion.

Photo by Tim Bugbee/Tinnitus Photography

Earth’s cult-hero guitarist spins stories in sound on his solo debut Conquistador—painting big-brushstroke riffs with a palette of supercharged Fenders, solid-state amps, and a few select stompboxes.

After nearly 30 years as the only constant member of drone-doom-metal cult heroes Earth, guitarist Dylan Carlson has released his first album, Conquistador. As the title suggests, the work espouses a fantasy world that's rooted in history, not unlike the one explored on Earth's 2005 Hex; Or Printing in the Infernal Method—a belated imaginary soundtrack to novelist Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian. Carlson has also done soundtrack work, under his solo moniker drcarlsonalbion, for the film Gold. But this time, the music speaks exclusively to his personal vision.

Carlson has always been known for wading against common trends—an approach that's helped him define his voice in the sparse, expansive sound of Earth. Like most artists, he's proud of not fitting into a mold. “I make records for people. I don't make records for guitar players," he says. But it's not an exclusionary statement, just one that acknowledges the detachment he takes from the technical and cultural associations with the instrument while songwriting. Drawing heavily from his tastes in film and American history, he gradually and steadily builds a world on the all-instrumental Conquistador in which he becomes more of a visual architect than a guitarist, exploring the negative space between rich, textural tones.

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