TWENTY!! Goddamn right. The Top Drone list could no longer be contained by the traditional 10. I’m not doing 20 because there was just too much awesome drone this year. While that’s true, it’s also true every year. No, I’m doing it because there were so few standout albums. Everything was so fucking awesome it’s like everyone juiced their skills but were all stopped by a glass ceiling or something. I mean my Top 5 are almost interchangeable. Well, not really, but sort of.
So, as usual, this list is about my personal favorite droners. Nothing objective going on. And, like AGB in general, I tend to favor the under-represented. And I don’t usually allow reissues, but I had to bend the rules a bit for no other reason than that one reissue is so, so fucking good and I didn’t know it was a reissue until I started making this list.
And you know I only write about the highest quality shit. So anything that was posted this year and tagged as Drone is basically just as good as everything you’ll see on this list. So browse that genre if you’re still jonesing for some more drone.
Onto the list!
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Aquarelle – Within / Without (Students Of Decay)
This is Aquarelle’s (aka Ryan Potts) first full length in two years, although he kept us tided over with that Alex Cobb split and a new track on my free 5 year anniversary comp You’re All The Fucking Best, so while there hasn’t been a total lack of His Majesty’s drones, there certainly hasn’t been anything like this. August Undone is pure brilliance. Take all your other lush records and melt ‘em away because this is the only one you’ll ever need, this is the most blissful fucking thing I’ve ever heard, a massively dense wall of heavenly sound that’s somehow still soft & weightless, an ever-shifting crystal fog that overwhelms you but gives you moments of transcendent clarity, a thousand layers of everything, guitars, banjos, reeds, pianos, all in their unadorned perfection and processed to the stars and back, bombastic muffled percussion, endless loops of dream pop rhythms, taking your breath away every second of its all-too-short life, with unexpected explosions that will send you reeling into a euphoric coma sounding like in Sunshine when he’s inside the sun as he reignites it with his Manhattan-sized bomb, absolute fucking beauty, a cacophonic symphony of your unconscious ideals realized, that feeling of blood rushing to your head in sheer exuberance, this is the sound of Potts making a perfect goddamn record. Vinyl comes out mid-July but digital is out right now in all the usual places, so go forth and make your life brighter.
Alex Cobb – The Body Is The Mirror (Low Point)
Alex Cobb (aka Taiga Remains, aka Students Of Decay head) and Aquarelle (aka Ryan Potts, aka Rest & Noise dude, aka creator of the magnificent Sung In Broken Symmetry) have teamed up for a tragically overlooked split from last year. It’s a bit on the short side but every moment is sheer beauty, with slow tones and resonant drones, smooth Stars Of The Lid stylings, delicate clicks & plucks of electronics & guitars, and devastatingly gorgeous golden glimmering static. It starts out with two of Cobb’s tracks, one a short hushed minimal piece, the second more aligned with Aquarelle and sounds like it could even be a collaboration between the two, with Cobb’s processed guitar blending into a quiet pink noise. Pay attention because this is how real splits are made. Aquarelle’s side long piece is much like the work on his last record, incredibly euphoric and overwhelmingly dynamic. Like an evening at the beach watching the sun set as the surf & salty air take turns dazzling your senses. It seems like he’s got a little formula worked out for his sound, with walls of bliss exploding when you least expect it, but it’s like the golden ratio, it’s perfect, don’t fuck with it. Just enjoy it while it lasts.
Aquarelle – A Strange Sweet Woe (Students Of Decay)
Absolutely incredible. Ryan Potts (the Rest & Noise dude) has made the most stunning drone album and it’s the first in Student Of Decay’s new subscription series. Overwhelmingly beautiful, waves of pure golden static perfection that don’t let up. Textured like a yellow tree caught glowing in the sunrise, or sand dunes being molded by the wind. Weeping joy, soothing sadness, painfully euphoric on every level. Piano & guitar acoustics woven in smooth contrast to the mostly digital canvas, giving way to some stretched out rhythmic loops. As warm and inviting as drone should be. The essential autumn record to last you through next spring. Another fuckin year end contender. No idea how to handle all this awesome.