Album Review

Kyle Bobby Dunn – …And The Infinite Sadness (Students Of Decay, 2014)

kyle bobby dunn - and the infinite sadness album cover
Kyle Bobby DunnSpem In Alium & Her Unable (Students Of Decay)

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The indisputable champion of modern droners has truly outdone himself with a new 3xLP (!!!) and here we are to celebrate. Magical upon magical, this dude weaves every emotion under the sun into a veil of pure unrelenting beauty, sadness & despair, yes, but also fear & torment, love & exuberance, anguish & anxiety, hope & solace, the endless sky bleeding with life and offering nothing save the truth, this is majestic and soft and honorable and deeply personal, unimaginable depth swirling beneath the surface, the past that couldn’t help but lead to this masterpiece, a heaven I never thought I’d know is now filling up my consciousness with the blissful heartache that only Kyle Dunn could conjure. Ever since I saw him play on New Years Eve ’09/’10 and went home with my copy the stunning art edition of Intimate Rituals, I knew I’d stumbled upon an artist that I would follow with the highest expectations. Every release I’ve heard of his since then has been nothing short of flawless, and somehow he reaches new heights of perfection with each one. …And The Infinite Sadness expounds on everything prior to it and allows KBD to officially carve his name in the immortal Drone Stone. This is everything.

Top 10 Drone Records Of 2012

A couple months ago I was lamenting that 2012 had shit for good drone records. The words of a madman, clearly. This year was chock full of goodness, although to be honest, nothing this year is quite as good as my favorite drone record from 2011, Nicholas Szczepanik’s Please Stop Loving Me, which will always be the best thing ever. Still, there’s tons of amazing drone this year and it was damn near impossible to keep it trimmed to a tidy 10.

I know genre-specific lists are already niche enough, but I decided to give myself a couple new rules to help narrow my focus. First was defining “Drone Record,” which I hadn’t really done before. If you know the site, then you’ll know my drone tag is liberal. I throw that fucker on everything. But to me, for a record to be on a list of drone records, its top-level genre has to be drone. If I was cataloging it by genre, it would have to go under “Drone.” Not “Noise,” not “Black Metal,” not “Doom,” not “Folk.” Those could be sub-genres, just not the main one. This cleared out a lot of records. It meant I couldn’t include Horseback’s Half Blood (probably my favorite non-drone record this year), Gates’ Eintraum, Sutekh Hexen’s Behind The Throne, etc.

Second, I decided no reissues or box sets. I’ve sorta followed this one in the past, but I didn’t want highly publicized massive tomes like William Basinski’s The Disintegration Loops or Pauline Oliveros’ epic 12 disc Reverberations stealing the thunder here.

As you know, I only write about the most top notch shit that gets me super psyched. Every drone record that came out this year and I reviewed should be on this list. So go digging through the drone tag and find the rest that just barely missed the cut. They’re all #11.
 
 

10. Moonshine BluesThrough (Hidden Vibes)
“Floating in the grey and rapt in heartache, while sheets & swells of euphoria shimmer in the dark, dragged to the edge of oblivion and left alone…”

One of the best drone releases this year is free. So go download this bleak beast right now and you can feel totally guilt free doing so. And it came out of left field, too. Self released (on his own label), solo Ukrainian guy making some sad fuckin jams, usually as Endless Melancholy, but venturing out into more “ambient” territory as Moonshine Blues. He’s got this blues drone thing down pat and it was more or less an experiment. A+ dude.
 
 

9. WastelandersCosmic Despair (Calls & Correspondence / Basses Frequences / Space Idea / Hewhocorrupts Inc.)
“The first few tracks are as depressing as it gets, gloom thick enough to asphyxiate on, solid minimal melancholy that turns your heart into lead and brings gods to tears.”

Gloomy. As. Fuck. The kind of sadness reserved for royalty eulogies & the internal monologue leading to suicides. Long torturous tracks that take the cake for most depressing drones. And super fucking gorgeous.
 
 

8. ConcernMisfortune (Isounderscore)
“…nervous nondescript fumbling & fidgeting to keep busy while the drones flutter, then a huge blissful shimmering cloud of hand-wringing uncertainty, slightly transparent and hovering right in front of the sun.”

Edgy box harp drone that’s as jangling as it is soothing. When a drone record has a certain novelty (like an atypical instrument as the primary focus) I usually get sucked in regardless, but this one is outstanding in its own right. A bittersweet swansong from Concern, Misfortune being the last release under that moniker. One of two Isounderscore releases on this list because that label is 100% quality.
 
 

7. Andrew Weathers & Andrew MarinoWe Don’t Have Sun Like This (Full Spectrum)
“…always with a delicate tenderness that feels like Weathers is hugging you through your speakers.”

A unique book release with no physical music included. Marino did the photos for the book and Weathers’ tunes come via download. I honestly can’t get enough of Weathers. Everything he does is magic. The absolute perfect blend of folk & drone, he fucking nails it every time. His banjo can do no wrong and his voice is probably the only one that should be allowed to sing over drone.
 
 

6. PortraitsPortraits (Important)
“…an impossibly minimal drone that’s almost too beautiful to handle.”

The supergroup to end supergroups (this time it’s true I promise). Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, Evan Caminiti, Jon Porras, Gregg Kowalsky, Marielle Jakobsons, and Maxwell August Croy to name about half of them, all working in perfect unison, somehow making harmonies that I still can’t wrap my head around. Long form drones that some work years to achieve, these guys kicked out while they all still have their regular bands & shit going on. Unreal.
 
 

5. Kyle Bobby DunnIn Miserum Stercus (Komino)
“…the soft subtleties & elegant dances are still the core, but instead of charming or uplifting, we’re given somber & melancholic, tones dipping into ethereal, haunted dreams…”

Nope, not Bring Me The Head Of…, this one is better because it’s darker and a more unique addition to KBD’s discography. Plus it’s just better. The most beautiful misery I’ve ever heard, overwrought but without tension, intimate & devastating, delicate & harrowing. This is Dunn at the top of his fucking game.
 
 

4. EUS, Postdrome, & SaåadSustained Layers (BLWBCK)
“Dense and soaring, black anvil clouds rolling over open plains, always on the edge, seeing the sun rays glow and the grey mass shift, an impending fury that always threatens, never breaks…”

This is beyond gloom. This is as dark as you get before you hit black ambient. It would be downright terrifying if it wasn’t so fucking majestic. And I’d never heard of any of these three guys or the label before. Totally opened my eyes to a new minimal darkness. Supremely awesome.
 
 

3. Nicholas SzczepanikThe Truth Of Transience (Isounderscore)
“…a wonderful long form rhythm, it starts out menacing, all horror movie suspense style, with percussive gong-like warnings and imitation bowed cymbals, turning into a loud and blissfully unnerving swirl that eventually fades to nothing…”

Szczepanik put out 3 records this year (this, We Make Life Sad, and Luz, a collab with Federico Durand as Every Hidden Color). And Szczepanik is probably my most favoritest droner right now so why & how the fuck did I chose just one? First, not only did he take the number one spot last year but he was on that list twice (his Ante Algo Azul series couldn’t be skipped). And while this is a totally biased & subjective list, I still feel the need to be a little fair to everyone who’s not Szczepanik. I mean, if he put out 10 records, chances are they’d comprise the whole list, so I tried to restrain myself and only picked one. While Luz is incredible, it didn’t hit me the way his other two did. And We Make Life Sad is one of the most personal and unique albums this year, truly amazing, but I thought I could exclude it due to it being less droney than The Truth Of Transience. Oh, and because Transience is fucking stunning. Out of the three, this one unquestionably wins the gold.
 
 

2. High Aura’dSanguine Futures (Bathetic)
“…a foggy midnight journey through the middle of the ocean, with distant muffled canons fighting off some ancient sea beast, mythical & literal sirens wailing, calling with sweetness & alarm, chimes and clatter rattling in the still darkness…”

How the hell did High Aura’d make a record this goddamn good? Seriously, this is amazing in so many ways. Dark & minimal rumblings that breathe soft and threaten your life. I literally can’t imagine him ever making a better record than Sanguine Futures and it’s only his third outing as High Aura’d. I’m pretty sure he will at some point, though, because this dude gets exponentially better with each release. But even if he doesn’t, this is a black star that’ll forever outshine so many other records.
 
 

1. SuperstormsSuperstorms (Experimedia)
“Crushed bits and burnt clouds, a blurred fury dipped in bliss, sunsets viewed through a grit lens, a trillion grey sky pixels fractured with the glow shining through, brittle static & warm drones blown out, scratched out, washed out…”

There’s a lot of dark & depressing shit on this list (tough times this past year) but the Number One sidesteps my masochism in favor of something that resonates so profoundly with me. Superstorms crafts the kind of drone that I feel is at my core, the kind of drone I crave more than any other: gritty, blissful, and fucking loud. I feel most at peace when records like this are so loud they obscure everything else in my brain. I can barely stand how fucking awesome Superstorms is. Serious next level drones. I’ve never heard anything else quite like it. I hope that you like this even half as much as I do because FUUUCK I love it too fucking much and the world would be a better place if everyone shared in this stupidly perfect love.

Album Review

Kyle Bobby Dunn – In Miserum Stercus (Komino, 2012)


Kyle Bobby DunnMeadowfuck (Komino)

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The dude can’t stop. The drones compel him. In Miserum Stercus is Dunn’s second record this year, after the double disc Bring Me The Head Of…, but this is a whole new beast, as you might be able to tell from the title (roughly translated as The Wretched Refuse). This is some dark depressive shit, going places we haven’t yet heard from KBD. I’m not talking black ambient or anything, the soft subtleties & elegant dances are still the core, but instead of charming or uplifting, we’re given somber & melancholic, tones dipping into ethereal, haunted dreams, sometimes with a bit more bite & atonality to them, even bordering on a sickly wobble, although even more delicate than ever, cautiously boasting its minimalism, brilliant in blending the warm & cold. But it’s not all gloom, it ends on a much brighter note than it begins and you can almost trick yourself into thinking you weren’t just sunk into a pit of despair. Obviously, this deserves all sorts of high praise as it’s now competing for my favorite Dunn record next to Ways Of Meaning. Lovingly delivered to you in its waxen glory by Komino. Don’t miss out.

Interviews

Questions For Kyle Bobby Dunn


 
This is the start of a new thing on Anti-Gravity Bunny. Inspired by the pleasure I got from interviewing Jon Mueller about Death Blues and from Root Blog’s Q&As, I decided I should be asking artists about shit that I want to hear them talk about. Since this is the first time these questions have been asked, I may alter them in the future.

Kyle Bobby Dunn is my guinea pig in this. He’s a fucking champ. Look out for his upcoming album of jaw dropping beauty & delicate gloom, In Miserum Stercus, out soon on Komino. It’s stunning.
 
What is the best way to die?
I’d presume during sleep is the best way to go out. Whatever you might be the least aware of since you’re ‘not supposed’ to have control over it…

How do you think you’ll die?
Hopefully jumping from a huge cliff in the Canadian rockies. Lots of scotch would be involved though so that might get to me first.

What makes you happy?
Good food, good drink, long trips, French women, good clothes, great films, nice sounds, old instruments, smell of firewood, fine cheeses, strong coffee, good sleeps, bathing, trees, lakes..

How can you die happy?
Maybe a nice quiet beach in France with a strong sense of finality.

How close have you come to death?
Too often really.

What does kindness mean to you?
I don’t think I know anything about kindness, most of it has made me quite sad. An attempt to understand is ok, but it’s still hard.

Where do you find love?
Wherever I can, usually can’t.

When were you most afraid?
I am too constantly afraid.

How do you listen to music?
In many different formats but it seems I’ve gotten quite into the headphones whilst walking around and doing stupid self-indulgent type things.

Album Review

Kyle Bobby Dunn – Bring Me The Head Of… (Low Point, 2012)


Kyle Bobby DunnEnding Of All Odds (Low Point)

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Honestly, I thought Ways Of Meaning would be the last Kyle Bobby Dunn record I wrote about. It was his best yet and he’s gotten big enough that I’m hardly doing anybody any favors by plugging the same dude. But then Bring Me The Head Of Kyle Bobby Dunn comes out and it’s got the album title of the year and it’s a 2 hour long double disc on Low Point and it’s just as good if not better than his last one. So, fuck. I gotta. This is fucking outstanding. A slight progression from Ways Of Meaning, Dunn is further refining the passionate & delicate sounds of the ether. The power of this lies in its depth and breadth, it has both quantity & quality, a wide open sky, free of clouds, absolutely pure, and without boundaries. The tracks flow perfectly into each other, an endless supply of next-level bliss. Nothing stands out, everything fits, and the warmth has no limits, wholly encompassing your every fiber, a homogenous universe of total perfection, taking everything you love about Dunn, stretching it out, extracting the positive, and wrapping it in eye-opening brilliance. When this drops next month, make sure you take a couple days off work because listening to this is all you’re going to want to do.

Top 10 Drone Records Of 2011

This year’s list was too damn hard. There was just so much awesomeness, it was almost impossible to keep it to 10. That’s just how lists are, I guess.

Since this is an AGB list and AGB = me, I allowed myself the freedom that an indie blogger should have. Namely, defining “drone” however I damn well please. However, I still had some criteria. If a record had some songs that were hardly drone at all, but still embodied the drone aesthetic as a whole, I kept it. There were plenty of records that I wanted to mold into the list but no matter which way I looked at it, they just couldn’t be considered “drone” (especially the new Ricardo Donoso and Colin Stetson albums).

If you’re new here, there are sound samples on all of the original reviews and I beseech you to listen to anything on this list you have yet to hear. I assure you it will be worth your time 100%. But…

On to the list! On to the heckling!


10. High Aura’dMooncusser (YDLMIER)
“Soaring Windy & Carl euphoria, brief Fahey picks, and a wall of absolute beauty.”

Boston’s killerest scene stomping dude on Boston’s raddest darned tape label.


9. Nicholas SzczepanikAnte Algo Azul (self released)
“There’s mournful Basinski textures, sci-fi tractor beams, static harmonies, Eliane Radigue homages, all wrapped in Szczepanik’s own meditative perspective.”

Technically 12 separate items but they’re all Ante Algo Azul. And the ID3 tags on the official downloads have each one as an individual track of the full 12 song “album.” So suck it. Plus, this shit is the greatest.


8. Mind Over MirrorsThe Voice Rolling (Digitalis)
“Stretched out gauze floating through pink/grey bliss, endless layers of reed textured harmonies, all of the fantastic things about harmoniums but given a new life through Fennelly.”

Harmoniums always do it for me and this is like the harmonium record to destroy all harmonium records.


7. MountainsAir Museum (Thrill Jockey)
“Mountains bounce back and forth between straight up drone and pulsing minimal space techno, keeping a nice balance, never cemented in their textured planar earthly past but not jumping ship for the OPN New Age.”

Always keepin me on my toes. Mountains took it to the next motherfuckin level on this one.


6. EmuulThe Drawing Of The line (Digitalis)
“Blurred & blown out drones that breathe heavy, swaying in the breeze, scorched at the edges.”

Sad n blissful. Zen x100.


5. RaleSome Kissed Charms That Would Not Protect Them (Isounderscore)
“…a heaving sweetheart, giving you massive swells of dense intimidation… conjuring images of watching a thunderstorm roll in on the beach… enjoying it without fear and wallowing in the glory of the lightening sky, the majesty of nature beautifully overwhelming.”

Rale fucking nailed it on this one. And no one knows about it! Only 300 copies made, came out in May, and it’s still available. What’s wrong with you people! This is truly original and has AMAZING packaging.


4. Lawrence EnglishThe Peregrine (Experimedia)
“Like the finest grade sandpaper, with a tooth so smooth, the grit almost disappears and you’re left with drone as glorious as humanly possible.”

Didn’t think Mr. English could make something more satisfying than Kiri No Oto but goddammit he sure did. Unreal.


3. Kyle Bobby DunnWays Of Meaning (Desire Path)
“This is the most delicate bliss I’ve ever experienced. 100% shining purity that doesn’t need to be cranked to 11 to get the job done. It swirls softly & effortlessly turns hearts into puddles of droney delight.”

First of all, KBD on vinyl? YES. Then, the best KBD record yet? Also, YES. It has one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard on it, too. It’s just math, you guys. Of course this is on the list.


2. Andrew Weathers EnsembleWe’re Not Cautious (Sleep On The Floor)
“It’s unbelievably warm, so rich & soft, tender & charming, absolutely beautiful in every way. It can be played at full volume and it won’t overpower, it’ll simply fill your home with the most delicately lush sounds you can imagine.”

Probably the least droney record on this list but it’s got enough to break into the official “Drone” category for me. Either way, this is literally one of the best records I’ve ever heard.


1. Nicholas SzczepanikPlease Stop Loving Me (Streamline)
“As wonderfully serene as it is, the whole time you’re wading waist deep in emotion, the sustained & intertwined tones heavy hearted, cascading heartache, longing, and hope. An elegiac softness matched with poignant massiveness that ends on the brightest, most uplifting note, fading into the horizon.”

This is the one. The best record of the year. Hands down. No contest. One of the best records of all time, in fact. I shit you not. As the kids say these days, unimpeachable. Or is it unfuckwithable? Lets just go with the universally understood: PERFECT.

Album Review

Kyle Bobby Dunn – Ways Of Meaning (Desire Path, 2011)


Kyle Bobby DunnCanyon Meadows

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Kyle Bobby Dunn is making his way up the charts, through the ranks of hundreds of new droners, getting press & praise everywhere he goes, and making me giddy every time a new album comes out. A full length is up next on Desire Path and it is certain, outlook is good, signs point to yes, without a doubt, Ways Of Meaning is my favorite KBD record yet.

This new album continues what Dunn does best, overwhelming beauty without relying on crescendos or building to grandeur, understated & impeccably paired tones, but it progresses beyond the straight-faced neo-classical sounds from before and works toward something warmer, more light hearted, attention grabbing, and overtly pleasing. Meaning is primarily guitar & organ based, giving it an exceptionally church-like vibe without any of the religious or epic connotations. It’s easy to imagine how incredible these drones would be resonating through a church, making me hate myself all the more for missing Dunn’s performance at the First Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn last year.

The album works insanely well as a whole, one cohesive life-shroud of smothering brilliance, but each individual song is astonishing on its own. “Canyon Meadows” is one of the most gloriously uplifting drone pieces I’ve heard in a long time, it perfectly embodies an open field untouched by man, blues & greens saturated by golden hour, subtle shimmering & glistening sun on stillwater, the incomparable feeling of napping in a warm sunlight bath after days of dreary rain. Everything about the song glows hope and happiness.

This is the most delicate bliss I’ve ever experienced. 100% shining purity that doesn’t need to be cranked to 11 to get the job done. It swirls softly & effortlessly turns hearts into puddles of droney delight. To say this album is absolutely gorgeous is an understatement, and even though I always have high expectations for a new KBD record, this one still surprised me. I can’t stress enough how incredible it is. If your lazy ass is thinking “Ok, I’ll get around to it,” FORGET IT. Make this a priority and don’t sleep on it. You’ll be a sad sad person.

Ways Of Meaning officially comes out on May 3rd, with Desire Path giving it not only the usual LP & digital niceties, but also going full on “special art edition.” If you remember what they did for Solo Andata’s Ritual art edition (and minimally glamorous box set!) then you’re probably wetting your pants right about now.