Album Review

Top 30 Drone Records Of 2016

I did it! I made a list. I didn’t think it would happen being a new dad and all, but it happened. I’m going to try to make a Top Metal list too, but no promises.

At 30 entries, this is the longest Top Drone list I’ve made. But I’ve been eschewing reviews lately and focusing on AGB Radio and A Thick Mist, so I figure 30 is acceptable if you count how many records I’ve directly recommended over the past year.

I seem to continually expand my definition of what a Drone Record is, which means there’s probably a few on here that are stretching the confines of that label, but I still did my best to try to keep it as Drone as possible.

There’s plenty of reoccurring themes in here. Namely, lots of voices/singing (11 have vocals present at least somewhere on the record) and lots of organs & harmoniums. Neither of those are all that surprising, though. But there’s two solo records from drummers, so that’s kinda cool. There’s also two heavily inspired by traditional Indian music, also kinda cool.

I had fun with this one. I changed a few things up this year. First, I decided to exclude any artist that’s been on any previous list. This meant no Saåad, Roly Porter, Andrew Weathers, Sarah Davachi, Mamiffer, Ian William Craig, Danny Paul Grody, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, etc. (Seriously though go listen to the new Saåad and Mamiffer records.) No one likes to see the same people on such a niche list over and over again, so this was a good way to keep things new and exciting.

The other thing I decided to do was not rank this in the traditional way. Instead, I put the records in positions 7-30 into four groups of six, and the records within each group aren’t ranked. So that means the records in group 7-12 aren’t ranked, aside from me liking them more than the previous 13-30 drone records. I did this except for the top 6, which are ranked traditionally. I hope it’s not too confusing.

As usual, I try to keep the Big Droners off this list because anyone who’s a fan of drone probably already knows that Eluvium and Tim Hecker put out records this year and while their music is A+ Amazing, they don’t really need a little DIY blog to help them out.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for listening. Thanks for making incredible music.

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Song Review

Jane Heidorn – “Hard Times Come Again No More” (Ashes Ashes)

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In today’s warp-speed music internet where you can see an artist release 3+ new full lengths within the span of a year, Clint Heidorn is a patient glacier. He put out a stellar debut full length, Atwater, in 2011. The next year he released a tape with one 8 minute song. 4 years later (this year) he put out a collaboration with Loren Connors, but it’s a single-sided LP with a song that’s just under 15 minutes. All of it’s outstanding, but clearly this dude is meticulous and highly selective (or maybe he’s just super fuckin busy being the production supervisor for DreamWorks). Now he’s got another impeccable release, although he’s mostly involved behind the scenes.

Clint’s grandmother, Jane Heidorn, died a few years ago. There’s a beautiful story about the making of this record that you should absolutely read, I won’t bother summarizing because it’s short enough to begin with and I don’t want to butcher Clint’s words. Clint recorded Jane singing Stephen Foster’s 1854 “Hard Times Come Again No More” while she was in a nursing home and Clint put together the music for it. It’s a deeply personal recording whose origin is important, but the song stands on its own as a somber elegy full of emotion and it’s every bit as beautiful as it deserves to be.

Clint memorialized Jane by releasing this song as a single-sided 10″ packaged in a plain unadorned sleeve, like an old 78. It’s perfect in every way. Only 250 copies that I’m sure won’t last long.