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.

Video

Mountains – Blue Lanterns On East Oxford

New absolutely gorgeous Mountains video for “Blue Lanterns On East Oxford” shot by Koen Holtkamp himself. It starts out with some puffy sped up/slow-mo clouds, then goes to a dazzling display of abstracted water that fits the twinkling synths perfectly, then fades back to some symmetrical clouds AND OMFG IT’S MANDELBROTTT <3

Album Review

Mountains – Air Museum (Thrill Jockey, 2011)


MountainsThousand Square

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FUCK. Mountains have blown me away with every release. After thinking I would never find out anything about the band behind the brilliance of Sewn, they caught me way off guard and dropped the stunning Choral in 2009 (original authorized review deleted from Blogger, eat a dick Google) and now Air Museum takes a new approach, totally exceeding the insanely high expectations I had for it. All you need to do is take a look at my last.fm stats to prove I’m not fucking around with this record.

Mountains have ditched the electroacoustic computer processing on Air Museum, instead opting for a more analog approach and running their usual instruments (guitar, accordions, etc) through pedals and synths and shit. So this is probably their least electronic based record but easily their most electronic sounding record. It sounds SO goddamn synthy. This is their trip to outer space. They’re not there yet, but they’re en route, soaring through the mesosphere.

This is what I want to permeate every moment of my life. Every little detail on this record is pure heaven. The opening track, “January 17,” has this sound that’s so subtle, but it fucking kills me every time. For the first minute, the song is all primer, chill smoothed out organ layers paving the way for the bliss to come, and a split second before it REALLY kicks in and gets all gauzy grandeur, there’s a quick bubbly sonar blip that just floors me. It’s so perfect.

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. They mix it SO well, the sterile jet cabin air static on “Newsprint” breathes life into silver woven blankets, preceding one of the most amazing fucking tracks EVER, “Sequel,” with its surging synth rhythm and gut-wrenchingly glorious sprays of warm golden euphoric harmonies, layers upon layers of sun drenched buzz & twinkle, humming the tune of Platonic perfection and painting everything in absolute beauty, mesmerizing & dazzling enough that Death could arrive and you wouldn’t even notice.

I had pretty much put Choral on an untouchable pedestal, imagining Mountains would never be able to outdo themselves. However, instead of making another but better Choral, they made something different but every bit as fucking great. Mountains achieved what Belong didn’t. They broadsided me, again, and this time I really thought I was ready for it. Mountains are fucking IT, man. They’re prescient visionaries. I want them to do something, and they say, “Ok, but what you really want is this.” So they do what they want and in the process make the greatest fucking records of our generation.