Album Review

Sublamp – Lianas (Eilean, 2014)

sublamp - lianas album cover
SublampOur Bodies Draped In Moss And Cloud (Eilean)

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Sublamp, aka Ryan Connor, is primarily interested in “pre-language experience” and Lianas takes us on a trip to the cloud forests of Monteverde, evoking a strong jungle vibe without the jungle rhythm, this is a gorgeously lush drone that’s just pure fucking bliss, 4 tracks, 3 of them nice & long, slow burning thick minimalism, like huffing ether to the point just before passing out and seeing stars dancing everywhere, parts of it reminding me of the precise intimate guitar work of Josh Mason, other parts going full blown texture overload, tender, warm, & timeless, I feel like I’ve been listening to this forever, the hum & crackle acting as the foundation of my life, a majestic fog rolling through your memory, giving everything a euphoric glow, this is truly spectacular drone, easily one of my favorites from this year, and the CD looks beautiful with deluxe handmade packaging and strictly limited to 80 copies.

Album Review

Telecult Powers – Black Meditations (Experimedia, 2014)

telecult powers - black meditations album cover
Telecult PowersNever Ending Empires (Experimedia)

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Crazy duo of Witchbeam & Mr. Matthews are back at it with a stellar freakshow on Experimedia that features guests like Rachel & Grant Evans (Motion Sickness of Time Travel & Nova Scotian Arms) and Lala Ryan (Excepter), so already this record is at peak awesomeness. Dark rhythmic weirdness banged out in an enchanted lodge that sounds just like what you’d hope a record called Black Meditations would sound like, unnerving noise waving in & out of focus, bleary drone making you woozy and filling every inch of the room, suffocating and hypnotic, conjuring an inter-dimensional knowledge of the Beyond, these guys capture the ritualistic séance of the 21st century with a creeped out occult vibe that permeates every moment, from the stuttering static and panning future electronics to the bizarre samples and mystical imagery, this record is way off the deep end, and I gotta say I’m both surprised and impressed Experimedia released this. Not their usual type of jam, but clearly Black Meditations transcends that bullshit, this will be right at home in any weirdo’s collection.

Album Review

Ian William Craig – A Turn Of Breath (Recital, 2014)

ian william craig - a turn of breath album cover
Ian William CraigTEAC Poem (Recital)

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Since Craig’s A Forgetting Place snuck into last year’s Top Drone list at number 4, he’s already released an incredible digital release (Theia And The Archive) and now he’s prepping his debut vinyl for Recital and holy mother of god this record is going to tear everyone’s soul to shreds and sit itself upon the Throne of Drone, reigning all from here on out. Craig is trained as an opera singer, and he takes his incredible voice and fucks it up with some Basinski style tape madness, going over the top with an emotional rollercoaster, this dude sings so fucking sweetly if he collaborated with Julianna Barwick world peace would be inevitable, he sends it straight to the stratosphere, soaring euphoria, and then cracks it into a million pieces with decaying texture and warbled beauty, this is the sonic equivalent of a Turner painting, horror and melancholy in stormy waters amidst the sun shining bright with hope & purity on the fringe, crumbling crackling harmony turned inside out, bursting with life and on the edge of death, I feel absolutely fucking devastated listening to this, it’s the most heart-wrenching, overwhelming, fucked up, perfect, warm, somber, delicate, monster of a drone record, I know I tend to dramatize things when I get excited about a record but for real this is the best fucking thing you’ll hear all year, maybe for the next 5 years, I don’t know, it’s just a goddamn masterpiece. And you may remember me saying in my review of A Forgetting Place that there was one song, “On The Reach Of Explanations,” that could have comprised the whole record and I still would’ve been just as psyched because that song is just un-fucking-believable, well that song made it onto A Turn Of Breath which means I can spin that track until the grooves wear out and I’ve passed out from heavenly bliss overload. So yeah, this new one has a couple of “old” songs but Craig has never had a physical release so I’m totally game. Only 500 copies getting pressed up (including 125 deluxe editions) so seriously do not waste another minute in pre-ordering this. 100% necessary for everyone.

Album Review

Lawrence English – Wilderness Of Mirrors (Room40, 2014)

lawrence english - wilderness of mirrors album cover
Lawrence EnglishThe Liquid Casket (Room40)

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Lawrence English is one of the artists that continuously/impossibly tops himself with each new release and Wilderness Of Mirrors is just fucking jaw dropping. Way more dynamic and aggressive that his recent efforts, this is the drone that smothers all competitors, it’s dark and audacious, intense sounds coming from midnight forest jaunts, swirling static that cuts deep alongside delicate chimes and melodious humming, balancing perfectly the reassuring soft tenderness & sky high soaring bliss with nightmarish gravitas & densely melancholic cacophony, English unleashes a visceral chaos peppered with the sweetest fucking drone, delicate minimalism, and moments of sheer triumph, all mixed together this is full blown euphoria that is unrivaled, dude is at the top of his game on this record and his game can’t be fucked with. This is all time Top Ten stuff. Immerse yourself.

Album Review

D. Burke Mahoney – Sonora (Cathedral Transmissions, 2014)

d burke mahoney - sonora album cover
D. Burke MahoneyTidal Currents (Cathedral Transmissions)

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This underrated dude is quickly proving to be one of my favorites in the current drone world. His newest outing comes from the appropriately named Cathedral Transmissions, and it’s a fuckin grand slam of a record, with four long pieces (ranging from 11 to 18 minutes) of gorgeously minimal drone, that wavers between modern classical and flat out hypno-wave tones, tossing in some field recording-esque texture, this thing goes all the way to the depths of your soul and just chills, hovering inside you while the thick warm hum smothers your every fiber, and the last (longest) song is almost like Basinski doing an ambient techno track, with the beats stretched wayyyy out and super fuckin murky, it’s fucking incredible, Mahoney wields subtlety & patience with such perfection it’s like he’s been doing this forever, but he’s only got a handful of releases and a bunch of one-offs on various comps & podcasts & such. Hopefully that’ll change soon because he clearly deserves the attention. And Sonora is wonderfully packaged in a cardboard envelope with artwork by Jessica Bell on the front. Super sweet. Super limited (45 copies). Definitely worth adding to your collection.

UPDATE: Looks like this one’s already sold out. Sorry about that. But there’s always digital, and it’s a fuckin steal at £2.

Album Review

Gog – Gog (King Of the Monsters, 2014)

gog album cover
GogThe Lies, They Want To Give You Something (King Of The Monsters)

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Muther. Fucken. GOG. This dude rules all. Everything he’s done has been the highest caliber black drone metal and his newest self titled release on the ever trustworthy KOTM takes shit to the next level. Things are way rowdier than before, less drone (but also more drone?), more songy songs, even pianos & vocals (with Francesca Marongiu of Agarttha & Architeuthis Rex lending her incredible voice to one track), the heavy doom is amped up, cranked to 11, and absolutely mono-fuckin-lithic, serious blown out darkness spewed from a core of pure fury & pain, the black metal blacker and metaller than it’s ever been, Gog transformed into a dynamic beast capable of droning silent voids of non-existence and unholy squalls roaring from the depths of despair, listen to this at maximum volume and be prepared for a true pummeling, this is a wholly unique record, and as a Gog fan, I can safely say it’s my favorite thing he’s ever released. Only 300 copies pressed, and if you’re unfamiliar with Gog or KOTM, know that this will not stick around long.

Album Review

Rvnes – Rest/Relief (Jehu & Chinaman, 2014)

rvnes - rest relief album cover
Rvnes – Relief (Jehu & Chinaman)

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Rvnes is new, but Malte Cornelius Jantzen has been around for a bit as S N DY P RL RS, whose LP on Umor Rex is fantastic. But S N DY P RL RS is no more and Rvnes has risen in its place. Glory be to Rvnes, this debut is easily one of my favorite drone records this year, two side-long pieces of deeeeep minimalism that sounds like it’s nearly motionless but feels like it has an entire universe of detail (which is proven by the waveform that’s way more dynamic than you’d expect), it’s the subtle pulsing, the delicate shifts in tone, the silence hovering between moments of resignation & peace that take what could be nothing more than a simple sleep to a beautifully perfect transcendence, this is full of a dense & delicate precision, a softness that almost diverts attention from the intense melancholic sobriety, but fully embracing this allows for all intricacies to be teased out, the borderline bliss alongside the bittersweet void, this is absolutely fucking awesome and deserves way more praise than it’s likely to get. Only 30 tapes were made, so seriously do not waste any time picking this up. Also it was mastered by the master himself Nicholas Szczepanik. It doesn’t get much better than this.

Album Review

Equal Stones – Transgression (Hidden Vibes, 2014)

equal stones - transgression album cover
Equal StonesSet Free (Hidden Vibes)

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This is a truly magnificent record from Equal Stones, aka Amandus Schaap from the Netherlands. Hidden Vibes makes note that Transgression has more of a “drone theme” than previous Equal Stones stuff, which I haven’t heard, so I can’t say if this is his usual sound or not, but I’m gonna guess this drone is somewhat new to him. But who fuckin cares because this record is the fucking best. This is a softly textured drone that’s gritty and looped, making heavy use of analog creek & crackle alongside echoing guitar, subtle synth, and ethereal nondescript vocals, wonderful waves of static that rise nice & high without being overwhelming and sit just below the threshold of euphoria, mysterious & hypnotic, like staring at the horizon through a thin fog over the ocean, seeing the occasional whitecap and floating debris, all shrouded in a soothing bittersweet bliss, dissolving your problems to their true objective state and letting that obsessive anxiety fall away. 100% awesome and you get the best of both worlds with options for limited gatefold vinyl and/or free* digital. You know what to do.

Album Review

Joe Houpert / Nathan McLaughlin / Cody Yantis / Josh Mason – Line Drawings (Desire Path, 2014)

yantis mclaughlin mason houpert - line drawings album cover
Nathan McLaughlin3:59 (Desire Path)

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Oh fuck, this one’s a doozy. Some background: Houpert, McLaughlin, Yantis, & Mason have this huge project that has its own site called A Line In The Sand. In addition to this Line Drawings LP on Desire Path, there’s a ton of other related stuff. There’s an hour long tape called Alice Sketches on Digitalis consisting of “conversations” where they responded to challenges & questions they posed to each other while creating Line Drawings. There’s a 12 page newsprint tabloid with gorgeous artwork from Chris Koelle that includes portraits of all 10 artists. And there’s a series of 5 split 7″s called Studies (co-released by Desire Path and FET Press) where each of these guys (including Chris Koelle) picked another artist not involved in A Line In The Sand to contribute to the other side of their 7″, which brings in Anne Guthrie, Mary Lattimore, Brad Rose, Olli Aarni, and Norm Chambers. Holy jesus that’s a lot of stuff and I assure you every bit of it is 100% worthwhile. No filler. But this post is about the Desire Path LP…

Which is un-fucking-believably awesome. 2 tracks per artist, 1 for each side, and these 4 are perfectly suited for a split like this. I only knew of Josh Mason and Cody Yantis beforehand and I could easily name their records if I heard them randomly or out of context, but here everybody’s music blurs together so seamlessly it could just as well have been a collaboration. This is the most subtle, intimate, & delicate music, soft drones humming throughout, with processed & glitched guitars, intentional banjo plucking, satiny strings, mystical field recordings, the warble & crackle of ancient analog media, this is deep music that’s full of life & emotion, it gets dark, harrowing, dipping into the dreadful void, far enough down that the light above almost but not quite disappears, but mostly this is a tender ambient that effortlessly divulges truth & peace, an insane pleasure listening to this record, there is nothing better than a 4-way split that comes together so beautifully. And this just continues to confirm Desire Path’s streak of masterpieces, they’re currently 9 for 9 and I see no sign of them tripping up anytime soon.

Album Review

Brinstaar – Testarossa (Kotä, 2013)

brinstaar - testarossa album cover
BrinstaarLakshmi (Kotä)

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Some killer weirdness coming out of Russia with this new Brinstaar record, abstracted wandering that births intimate ritualistic chimes & clatter, static glitch finding new ways to hypnotize, mega drones, pulsing bliss, plinky rhythms, and solar transcendence, adding some hidden & mysterious field recordings alongside the processed guitar and synth, this is fantastic work that Brinstaar says comes from looking for that “elusive moment of infinite bliss that keeps him alive and conscious.” Not sure what his moment is but it’s probably pretty similar to mine because this record fuckin rules. And it comes in the most future-tastic holographic jacket that has to be held in your hands to be fully appreciated. New to me label Kotä has instantly won me over with this one.

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.

Album Review

Dhow – Amara (Inam, 2014)

dhow - amara album cover
DhowNhi (Inam)

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The supremely talented and ridiculously prolific Ryan Huber, who works under guises like Sujo, Olekranon, and others, as well as running the Inam label, has put out yet another insane record, this time as Dhow (the second release under this name), and holy fuck he knocks it out of the park with this one, a little more shoegazey than his other monikers but Amara still goes to 11, getting loud & fuzzy, catchy riffs and big swells of feedback that sound like the world is ending, total apocalyptic vibes on here, crushing Angelic Process-esque sounds alongside heavenly blissed out drone clouds à la your favorite euphoric masters, soft, gauzy, and serene as fuck, like suffocating in a thick fog on top of a mountain, a mask of massive static to take you to the other side, the most explosive & bombastic fucking drone record I’ve heard that seriously just makes me wanna die. This dude knows no bounds. And if you don’t slack on this, you can get the super limited (to 40) CD-R on the cheap ($8!!) and it includes and even MORE limited (to 23!) sexy 7″ lathe with mono variations of the first two tracks on the CD. The artwork up there is for the digital version, which is slightly different than the CD-R & lathe.

Album Review

Cleared – Drown (Immune, 2014)

cleared - drown album cover
Cleared – Remote Ocean Prayer (Immune)

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Cleared is drummer Steven Hess (Locrian, Pan-American, etc) and multi-media artist Michael Vallera (aka COIN) and with only a few killer releases under their belt, Drown is looking to be their breakout record. So while this is essentially a guitar/drum duo, these dudes take that trope to a whole new level, making an almost-but-not-quite-metal noise/drone record that’s bookended with two amazing tracks that go way out into dream pop & shoegaze territory, something that walks the line between dark & heavy and light & drifty, with tons of feedback drone, static skitter, dark ambient shadows, cosmic expansion, shimmery guitars, and hypnotic percussion, it’s really just the fucking best, an absolutely stellar weird droney poppy record that’s hitting all the right spots for me right now, I honestly can’t get enough of this. Brought to you by the strangely underrated Immune, a seven year old slow burning label that’s doing everything right.

Album Review

Mike Weis – Don’t Know, Just Walk (Type, 2014)

mike weis - don't know just walk album cover
Mike WeisOut Of The Flowers (Type)

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Mike Weis, aka the drummer from Zelienople, drops his second solo LP and it’s a fuckin stunner. This was made after being diagnosed with cancer and is a sort of meditation on death, which becomes pretty apparent after giving this a spin because it’s dark as fuck and full of tantric percussion, a hypnotic droning beast that plumbs the depths of what we as humans know as life, it’s full of hallowed rituals opening new pathways in your head and begging for answers, propulsive and mystikal, taking you to uncharted interstellar domains with all manner of religious instruments, dwelling on subtle shifts in tones, screaming sirens, bombastic rhythms, searing static, delicate cymbals, organic field recordings, and a thousand hidden threads intertwined in a vast tapestry of morose beauty, this is a magnificent goddamn record, one that evokes a plethora of emotions and is easily one of the better things I’ve heard this year.

Album Review

Ambarchi, O’Malley, & Dunn – Shade Themes From Kairos (Drag City, 2014)

ambarchi omalley dunn - shade themes from kairos album cover
Ambarchi, O’Malley, & DunnShade Themes From Kairos (Drag City)
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Three dudes who hardly need an introduction, Oren Ambarchi, Stephen O’Malley, and Randall Dunn, have come together for what was originally supposed to be the score to the short Belgian film Kairos but evolved way beyond that into this 2xLP of harrowing dark ambient, a subtly menacing record that merges the already outstanding collaborative work between O’Malley’s guitar and Ambarchi’s electronics with Dunn’s perfect percussion, Shade Themes From Kairos walks the dark side of life, showing us all manner of occult & macabre, smoke & magik, ruins & rituals, truly penetrating music that ebbs & flows with soft skittering, bombastic nightmares, effortless drifts, enchanting vocals, devastating feedback, sonorous drone, and unholy freakouts, sights never before seen are laid in front of you, monolithic & unyielding, the sound of kingdoms fallen and souls forgotten, this is incredible fucking stuff, a truly magnificent record. I know these guys are pretty prolific but this one is not to be missed. And look at the fucking artwork by Denis Kostromitin I mean come on.