While 2010 was an insanely productive year for Chicago's Locrian, 2011 has been relatively quiet: other than the two releases with Horseback, this single is the only thing that’s been released. Mixing a Popol Vuh cover on one side with an original piece on the other, the result is an all too brief example of the band excelling at what they do best.
"Dort Ist Der Weg" is the band at their most "rock," I would say, and I mean that as a total compliment. Rather than their more abstract work, this is rather straight forward: Steven Hess' steady drumming, glacial synths by Terence Hannum, and alternating dissonant and melodic guitar by Andre Foisy. With female vocals provided by an uncredited performer (possibly Hannum's wife Erica, who has contributed on other works), it has all of the cold precision of the best krautrock, but an inviting, memorable sound to it that stays faithful to the original version while still going in its own direction.
The flip side, "Frozen in Ash," is more traditional Locrian, with Foisy's rapid-fire blackened guitars and Hannum's effected, pained screams. However, a bit past the half way mark, the harshness is balanced with clear acoustic guitar chords and subtle keyboard punctuations. The combination of noise and melody eventually builds to a dramatic climax before quietly fading away.
With the Popol Vuh cover channeling their more "rock" oriented Territories album, and "Frozen in Ash" capturing the dark, foreboding caverns of The Crystal World, this brief single really acts as a brilliant statement of purpose for the band, really emphasizing their ample strengths.