Album Review

Cinchel – A House Once Lived That Never Was (self released, 2014)

cinchel - A House Once Lived That Never Was album cover
CinchelFalling Asleep In The Big Blanket, Waking Up With snow Falling Outside The Bedroom Window (self released)

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Chicago’s Cinchel (aka Jason Shanley) has been slowly but steadily releasing super solid guitar drone records for the past few years, flying a bit under the radar for reasons unknown because this dude consistently knocks it out of the park and his newest release is no different. A House Once Lived That Never Was is like an hour and a half or something (according to my quick & sloppy math) and it’s all killer no filler tender ambient that’s as organic as Mountains used to be and as heartfelt as Andrew Weathers, taking a guitar and a tape delay and coaxing out the softest most delicate sounds, looped & dusty, droned & drifty, like chilling in a creaky house during a summer rain and listening to the air come alive, hypnotic strumming lulling you to a dreamland of pure perfection, this is absolutely wonderful stuff, and it comes with a 25 page color zine of photos taken by Shanley and his wife Kirstie (she’s really good). The digital version is out now (which includes a PDF of the zine) and the physical version will be out late May/early June.

Album Review

Alex Cobb – Marigold And Cable (Shelter Press, 2014)

alex cobb - marigold and cable album cover
Alex CobbMarine Layer (Shelter Press)

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After shedding the Taiga Remains moniker and debuting the supreme Passage To Morning in 2012 under his own name on Students Of Decay (the label Cobb runs), Alex has returned with his second full length under his new name and it’s a motherfucking champion of tender drone. This dude conjures next level sounds out of his guitar à la Stars Of The Lid, super soft and precise tonal shifts that exude warmth & emotion, and it’s all done live sans synths, heavenly minimalism subtly penetrating the dark crusty core of your heart that’s reserved for only the most intimate of moments, majestic & goddamn glorious without being overbearing or overwhelming, this is a perfectly balanced reserved euphoria, organically turning the surrounding sterile atmosphere into a peaceful familiarity. Best of the fucking best. Only 500 copies from one of my new favorites, Shelter Press.

Mixes

Intro To Drone

Intro To Drone for DEBCON 1

“Dazzle Fox” by Andrew Sempere

 
My pal Deb, who you may remember from running the Zed Equals Zee music/tech blog, or the current Daily Idioms thing, decided to throw a conference for her birthday (and called it DEBCON 1), letting all of her multi-talented friends give short talks about an insanely wide variety of topics. So, I’ll be talking about drone, obviously. That’s where this mix came from.

Deb also asked me to put together some drone to play at DEBCON, and I figured this would be a good opportunity to do a chronology of sorts of the genre starting with its introduction to the Western contemporary music world in the ’60s up to the current crop of bad dudes. So here’s the background on this mix. I tried to go for more drone than ambient, and I generally opted for longer songs. I tried to go with “classics” but since you can’t really have a new classic, the later years are more of my favorite well known(ish) stuff. I tried to keep the spacing more or less equal between the decades and was pleased with a nice round number of 20 songs. I included the year of composition or recording when possible but otherwise the year is the release date of the record. I did some equalizing of the tracks but since it’s almost 7 hours (1GB) of drone, I didn’t have time to listen to the whole thing again afterwards, so please let me know if there’s any crazy shit going on volume-wise (side note: Radigue’s piece is on the low side, but it’s maxed out with no clipping so just dig deep and zone in).

Thanks and enjoy.
 

Download Intro To Drone for DEBCON 1

UPDATE: Someone mentioned having trouble unzipping the file, so here’s a link to a folder with the contents of the zip (just 1 mp3, a text tracklist, and the artwork)
 
1. Tony Conrad – Early Minimalism: June 1965 (Part 1) (from Early Minimalism Volume One, 1965)
2. Terry Riley – Untitled Organ (from Reed Streams, 1966)
3. Eliane Radigue – Onward 9,5 (from Vice Versa, Etc…, 1970)
4. La Monte Young & Marian Zazeela – 13 | 73 5:35 – 6:14:03 PM NYC (from Dream House 78′ 17″, 1973)
5. Brian Eno – Discreet Music (from Discreet Music, 1975)
6. Yoshi Wada – Bagpipe (from Lament For The Rise And Fall Of The Elephantine Crocodile, 1981)
7. Pauline Oliveros – Horse Sings From Cloud (from Accordion & Voice, 1982)
8. Phill Niblock – Ten Auras (from A Young Person’s Guide To Phill Niblock, 1994)
9. Windy & Carl – Antarctica (from Antarctica (Bliss Out Vol. 2), 1997)
10. Stars Of The Lid – Austin Texas Mental Hospital: Part 2 (from The Tired Sounds Of Stars Of The Lid, 2001)
11. Charlemagne Palestine – 2 (from Music For Big Ears, 2000)
12. William Basinski – Disintegration Loop 4 (from Disintegration Loops III, 2003)
13. Tim Hecker – Incurably Optimistic (from Mirages, 2004)
14. Mountains – Hundred Acre (from Sewn, 2006)
15. Fennesz – Happy Audio (from Endless Summer, 2001)
16. Sun Circle – Untitled 1 (from Sun Circle, 2007)
17. Deceh – Untitled 1 (from Deceh, 2009)
18. Kyle Bobby Dunn – Movement For The Completely Fucked (from Ways Of Meaning, 2011)
19. Nicholas Szczepanik – Untitled 2 (from The Truth Of Transience, 2012)
20. Eluvium – Memory Print Boutique (from Catalin, 2014)

Album Review

Symbol – Online Architecture (Holodeck / Light Lodge, 2014)

symbol - online architecture album cover
SymbolShadow Harvesting (Holodeck / Light Lodge)

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Christopher Royal King of This Will Destroy You exorcising his inner psyche with this solo debut as Symbol. On the surface this could be just another synth record, a drop in the overflowing barrel of New Agey revival, but King takes this shit to the next level, if only due to the additional instruments he brings to the table, he’s got harmonium (which is an instant win obviously), singing bowls, hammered dulcimer, bowed cymbals, tape manipulation (another “fuck yes”), and guitar, all processed to heaven and back, giving this gorgeous beast a rare richness, full blown bliss that’s overworked and overdone to perfection, simple subtle drones that drift like dust in the sun, burnt static & soaring melodies opening new doors in your mind, falling apart as soon as you grab ahold of it, euphoric but not overwhelming, truly fantastic work that sounds all the better on wax.

Album Review

Chester Hawkins – Semisolids (Intangible Arts,2014)

chester hawkins - semisolids album cover
Chester HawkinsIodine (Intangible Arts)

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DC noise vet Chester Hawkins has shed his long running previous project, Blue Sausage Infant, and starts fresh with his regular name. With the new/old name comes a newish sound, so if you’re a fan of the BSI stuff you’ll still most certainly dig this, the industrial creep & wonderfully bizarre factors are still plentiful, lots of oozing synth, nauseating wobble, and piercing squelches, but also deep grooves running throughout, a heavenly hypno-buzz that’s a bit transcendent, taking cues from psychedelic krautrock and cosmic jammers, a killer retro-futuristic vibe that’s just as perfect for a horror sci-fi score as it is for freaky party times, a dark & dangerous mind eraser record. Dude definitely leveled up with the name change. Excellent fucking work.

Album Review

Inventions – Inventions (Temporary Residence, 2014)

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InventionsEntity (Temporary Residence)

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First of all, Matthew Cooper aka Eluvium is one half of this new project so it’s already the best thing ever. The other dude is Mark Smith, guitarist from Explosions In The Sky, so yup, definitely 100% the best thing ever. It sounds kinda like what you’d expect, there’s moments where it literally sounds like those clean EITS guitars on top of some premium Eluvium drone, and that’s fucking great and it would be perfectly satisfying if that’s all it was, but it’s sooo much more. These two come up with something familiar but unique, taking their respective talents and washing it in a blissed drone pop that feels way better that you’d ever imagine it could, like magic space dust swirling in slow motion, with subtle mini-crescendos, unexpected rhythmic grooves, and wordless soothing vocals, this is the golden shimmer on top of clouded water, the score to the dreams you hope for every night, giving you the feeling that yeah maybe everything is ok, at least for the duration of the record. Pure fucking excellence. This one has been pretty much glued to my turntable for the past few weeks. Couldn’t love it any more.

Album Review

Saåad – Deep/Float (Hands In The Dark, 2014)

saaad - deep-float album cover
SaåadNew Helicon (Hands In The Dark)

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Pure fucking magic right here. Ever since that 3-way collab with Saåad, EUS, and Postdrome from a few years back, I’ve been keeping an eye on all of those guys, and everything they’ve done has been stellar, and Deep/Float, Saåad’s vinyl debut, is no different. Truly magnificent dark drone that soars and heaves, bittersweet & melancholic doesn’t even crack the surface here, this penetrates deep in the core of your soul and shows you things you didn’t know you could feel, steady and slow moving but it feels like every passing moment is a climax, the point just before you can’t take it anymore and the world collapses under the weight of life, both minimal and overwhelming, this is utterly fucking gorgeous and will bring even the strongest to tears. These two Toulouse dudes are at the top of the drone chain with this one. Out next month, only 300 copies, you can do this.

Album Review

Jackie McDowell – Baptisia (Hairy Spider Legs, 2014)

jackie-mcdowell-baptisia-album-cover
Jackie McDowellApogee And Perigee (Hairy Spider Legs)

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Inez Lightfoot is no more. But the powerful alchemist behind Inez Lightfoot, Jackie McDowell, continues on with her regular name, definitely something a lot of artists seem to be doing lately. Not judging or anything, just observing. For posterity’s sake. You know. Anyway, Baptisia is McDowell’s first record under this name, and it’s a fuckin winner. It’s some sort of folk drone pop that’s heavy on the strange & mystic and steeped with buzzing organ hum, which instantly makes me weak in the knees. This has a deep Zomes vibe, especially after that last record with Hanna Olivegren spicing things up with vocals, and I fucking love Zomes so McDowell is already batting a thousand. This record is just a total fuckin burner, with her beautifully distinct voice, singing somber songs rooted in the pagan world, an occasional acoustic guitar, violin, or drum machine, and a dash of field recordings, together creating a haunting atmosphere out of otherworldly tantras, McDowell’s role is enchanting shaman, conjuring hypnotizing sounds that you’d hear while lost in the woods, the drone set to infinity and McDowell floating along with it in perfect harmony, this is a beautiful fuckin record, weird & magical in all the right ways, and it fits in perfectly with Hairy Spider Legs’ oeuvre. Comes out next month, preorders are up so put yours in now and don’t worry about missing out.

Album Review

Joshua Bonnetta – Strange Lines And Distances (Experimedia Films, 2014)

Joshua Bonnetta - Strange Lines and Distances album cover
 

Joshua BonnettaStrange Lines And Distances trailer (Experimedia Films)
 

Yes, you read that right. Experimedia Films! And yeah, that’s why there’s a trailer instead of a streaming song. But there’s an album cover too? Yep. Stay with me here for a moment. Get this, Strange Lines And Distances is a record… AND a movie. 2 in 1! It’s what the art world calls “audio/visual.” Joshua Bonnetta created an a/v installation that’s been shown around the world and Experimedia started a film off-shoot to bring this beautiful beast to the public. There’s a DVD (with optional Blu-Ray add-on) of the 16mm film and an LP with an extended version of the score (as well as digital downloads for both audio & video), and it includes an in-depth write up by Jeffrey Sconce that starts out “There will never be a digital ghost.” The whole thing is fucking amazing, and I haven’t even gotten to the content yet.

Story time! Guglielmo Marconi was the first dude to broadcast a radio transmission across the Atlantic (between Cornwall and Newfoundland). Also, he believed that sound waves never completely disappear but rather fade out over time, and if technology was advanced enough, with the right tools you could pick up sound waves from centuries past. Strange Lines And Distances is directly inspired by this belief and Marconi’s transmissions.

Bonnetta’s work here is both thematically fascinating and aesthetically gorgeous. The video has 2 channels, it’s split down the middle with footage from both of the original transmission sites in Cornwall and Newfoundland, it’s a half hour of perfectly paired complementary images of snails & reeds, webs & leaves, clouds & trees. The visuals stand on their own as truly captivating, capturing the micro & macro magic of our planet. The sound part dives even deeper into the mystery of Marconi’s world, finding the most subtle interplay between field recordings, radio transmissions, and electronic sonics, moving through a world of delicate precision and deafening static, getting rolled over by waves of heaven, overwhelming & majestic, next to the silence of being the only person around, hearing your heart beat in tandem with the natural drone of the world, slow & resigned. This is easily one of the most incredible releases so far this year. The record alone is some of the best drone around, and the video is downright masterful, but together, and so exquisitely packaged by Experimedia Films, the whole thing is just absolutely fucking perfect.

Album Review

Gordon Ashworth – S.T.L.A. (Orindal, 2014)

gordon ashworth - stla album cover
Gordon AshworthDesperate And Indebted (Orindal)

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You might not recognize the name Gordon Ashworth because this is his first record under his own name but I can almost guarantee you already know him. He’s recorded as Concern, Oscillating Innards, CAEN, etc, he’s also in the band Knelt Rote, and a bunch of others. So yeah, busy dude, he ain’t new to the scene, and S.T.L.A. makes that readily apparent because HOLY SHIT this record is fucking amazing. He takes a wholly unique approach to folk drone, bringing together his arsenal of talent to blend lush digitalism with tender acoustic keys & strings, in just under 40 minutes he’s able to conjure an entire world of sound teeming with life, mini portraits via field recordings, transcendence out of emotional piano, soft Tesla static and minimal tonal drift, a beautiful banjo singing with heartache, the boundaries are non-existent and Ashworth reins everything together with precision, old Americana & musique concrète alongside blurred drone & modern classical, everything all at once and pared down to the barest intimate impression of reality. Not gonna lie, I was pretty fuckin bummed when Ashworth drew the shades on Concern a couple years ago, but S.T.L.A. heals that wound and goes way beyond what I had hoped for, this record is utterly fantastic, gorgeous in every way. It doesn’t hurt that I’m a sucker for banjos, especially banjo drone, I mean forget about it I’m a fuckin goner, but trying to get past that, this is easily one of the best goddamn records I’ve heard in a long time. For real. Only 300 copies pressed up, so stream some samples then get your pre-order on now and lock it in.

Album Review

Aires – Aires (Enough, 2014)

aires album cover
AiresOrgânico II – Monolítico (Enough)

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I’m usually pretty out of the loop with netlabel releases and the seemingly endless amount of stuff on archive.org, but this one snuck by & stuck out and goddamn we’re all the better for it. Aires is a dude out of Lisbon and this is his debut, or at least the debut as Aires. Truly magnificent work here, blending field recordings, shoegaze, and the almighty drone to send you soaring above the storm clouds and into the heart of the sun, this is a slow burning blissful beast, taking its time unraveling the many layers of din & clamor, light airy shimmer capped with dark melancholic tension, an imminent evil that never shows its face, heavy on the digital FX, panning, bursting, & scratching, tons of texture that eventually explodes on the last track, overwhelming with waves of euphoric static washing over, dense & absolutely fucking gorgeous, a heavy fabric billowing under mighty winds, pure emotions run rampant, and it’s over before you can catch your breath. Excellent fucking sounds on this record, definitely a dude to keep an eye on. And don’t forget, this is free and you can take your pick of where to download it.

Album Review

Faures – Continental Drift (Home Normal, 2014)

faures - continental drift album cover

Faures – Asthenospheric Movement I (Home Normal)

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Faures is a new project bringing together René Margraff (aka Pillowdiver), Samuel Landry (aka Le Berger), and Fuzz Lee (aka Elintseeker), all three of them being totally righteous droners on their own, each from a different continent, and together forming up like a motherfuckin Drone-tron, unstoppable with their perfect mellowtones. Continental Drift was inspired by this quote from Hans Cloos in regards to continents & tectonics, “It let them float and drift, break apart and converge. Where they broke away, cracks, rifts, trenches remain; where they collided, ranges of folded mountains appear.” And Faures spun the quote to instead reference sound, letting loose a massive & delicate record of shifting glacial air, breaking open vents to unleash monumental walls of bliss and then filtering out the overwhelming static to leave you with a subtle soft ambient that’s deeply intimate and full of emotion, inaudible clicks intertwined with layered minimalism, resonant piano, and mournful strings, this is some divine head-filling drone that soothes all forms of beast, Home Normal proving yet again to be one of the most reliable sources for drone records of the highest fucking quality.

Album Review

Black Hat – Thought Of Two (Hausu Mountain, 2014)

12 Jacket (3mm Spine) [GDOB-30H3-007}
Black Hat – Portrait In Fluorescent Light (Hausu Mountain)

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With only a couple killer EPs to his name (on Debacle and Field Hymns), Black Hat drops this fucking ridiculous full length on the Hausu and people better start payin attention now. This dude jams some dark techno drone that drowns out the rest of the watered down stuff in the genre. Thought Of Two could easily have come out on Modern Love, it’s got the sprawling ambient vibe that drones with the best of em, soaring through deep space headed for the edge of the universe and glimpsing the other side of life, and beautifully textured foundations that set the scene for a mixed bag of rad rhythms, occasionally woozy & blissful, but mostly just alien industrial grooves that are murky as fuck and damn near perfect, this is the most premium shit, definitely a high point in the scene right now. Only 100 copies of this beast were pressed to white vinyl and they’re almost completely gone already, even though it was officially released yesterday, but if you miss out on the white vinyl, there’s plenty of CDs to go around. UPDATE: Plenty of black vinyl was pressed up too. My bad!

Album Review

Claypipe – A Daylight Blessing (MIE, 2014)

claypipe - a daylight blessing album cover

ClaypipeShed Your Clothes And Feel The Sun (MIE)

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Claypipe is not a new band (although new to me, thanks MIE!), it’s the output of renowned New Zealanders Antony Milton & Clayton Noone and this is their seventh record, so if you’ve heard either of their work or heard anything from Milton’s PseudoArcana label, then you might know what you’re getting yourself into here and have probably already started looking for a copy to cherish in your arms forever. This record is the most perfect blend of drone & pop you could imagine, à la Benoit Pioulard’s recent stuff, although A Daylight Blessing is much more warbled & fuzzy, stretched out drones & easy going chords wrapped up in gauze and soaking in the sun, everything is muffled under decayed hissing tape, turning the blissful & serene into something just a hair unsettling, the shimmer jangle propped up on a sobering melancholy, distant vocals echoing down canyons with a soft scattering of sounds teeming with life, an absolutely beautiful and enchanting record, only 300 copies pressed up by MIE and officially out as of yesterday, so get a move on.

Album Review

Anne Guthrie – Codiaeum Variegatum (Students Of Decay, 2014)

anne guthrie - Codiaeum Variegatum album cover
Anne GuthrieStrongly Leaning With Irregular Crown (Students Of Decay)

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After a handful of excellent releases under her belt, Guthrie drops her first vinyl full length on Students Of Decay, and, surprise surprise, it’s fucking outstanding. Guthrie works in the realm of field recordings and processed instruments, most notably here with the French horn, violoncello, and contrabass. Brilliantly blurring the lines by twisting the natural world with the manmade one, I think I hear rushing air & squawking birds, but hardly confident enough to identify anything in particular. The mysterious origins are only the beginning though, while a spectral world floats between the bizarre sounds, fleeting moments of abstract turning concrete slip between your fingers, subtly blown out radio transmissions crackling & crumbling like an ancient stone wall, insects humming past your ears, decaying mournful horns looped to infinity, this is both sterile and full of life, a strange overlap of warmth & cold, Guthrie is adept at finding the perfect tone at the perfect moment and allows for both extended silence and lush minimal drone, absolutely wonderful stuff, definitely not to be missed, and SOD is only making 250 of these, so get while the gettin’s good.