This is my final list this year, which saw 3 more than usual to make up for the lack of non-AGB Radio action for the past 6 months or so. As usual, I tried to keep the big names out (no Philip Jeck, no William Basinski, no Thomas Brinkmann), as if there’s anyone who would read a drone list and not know Basinski put out one of the best drone records of the year. There were so many records that were absolutely amazing but fell a bit too far from my fabricated & arbitrary definition of drone to make this list (Félicia Atkinson, Kara-Lis Coverdale, Eartheater, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma). Maybe next year I’ll have a list of Almost Drone records.
The “Solo” part of this list is only to differentiate it from the Collaborations list I already posted, otherwise it’s essentially the same as my usual Drone list. I put this list together and realized only one of the records was not a solo operation, so I axed it and made the list 100% individual work (that’s not to say other people didn’t help out here and there on the records, though).
In case you missed em, there’s also my Top 10 Collaborative Drone Records, Top 15 Metal Records, and Top 20 (Not Drone Or Metal) Records lists.
Things will probably be quiet here for a little while after this. I have two more AGB Radio episodes planned (counting down this list next week followed by a holiday episode), then in January I’ll be moving and I have a baby that’s due, so I’m not making any plans for AGB until I got that shit on lockdown. Might be doing a bunch of AGB Radio re-runs for a while. No idea. You’ll know when I know.
Have fun. Thanks for reading/listening/appreciating.
Read the rest of this entry »
No need to rehash the stuff I’ve already written about with a mid-year best of list. Once a year is plenty. And sometimes (ok all the time) it’s hard to keep up with all the supremely excellent releases that come out. And sometimes it’s easier to just bang out a bunch of mini(ish) reviews all at once so I don’t feel like I’m trapped under a stack of promos that’s ready to cave in on me. So here’s the awesome shit that came out this year (one was originally released on CD last year but put out on vinyl this year so whatever) that I didn’t have time to get around to. Each and every one of these is fantastic enough to have deserved their own individual review but oh well, so it’s likely more than one of these will end up on my year end Top Drone list. And while some of these records have already gotten more than enough coverage elsewhere, they’re all just too good for me to ignore. But I’m sure you’ll be able to find some stuff in here you haven’t heard yet.
Also, if record on here was self released, chances are it’s available for pay what you can on Bandcamp, so get excited.
The technically unranked list of 20 is below the jump so as not to clog up the front page.
Read the rest of this entry »
Claypipe – Shed Your Clothes And Feel The Sun (MIE)
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.
Sarin Smoke – Atmen Ein (MIE)
Not like yall haven’t heard about this yet but I’m just doing my due diligence so it reaches as far & wide as possible. This is a fucking hellbeast of a record. Tom Carter & Pete Swanson teamed up for some 6 string feedback & tortured electronics that sound like they’re being spawned from the core of the goddamn sun. Swanson’s new technoise aesthetic is found all over this, just sans beats, and Carter’s guitar is either jamming the best Americana sprawl or throwing on a Swanson suit and making the strings completely indistinguishable from the electronics. Superb drones salvaged from the Dust Bowl and left out to bake in Death Valley, crusted over in a layer of caustic bliss, scorched alarm calls & nauseous jet engine hum, star worshipping reverb & meditative resonance, the enjoyment factor on Vent is through the fucking roof. So insanely good. Definitely don’t want to miss this.
Side note: Tom Carter has some crazy medical bills from when he got pneumonia while touring overseas earlier this year. A fund was set up to help ease the financial pain, The Robert Thomas Carter Irrevocable Trust, which you can just flat out donate to, but you can also just buy this record. All proceeds from Vent will go to the Trust, so buy a few copies to give out as birthday gifts or something.
Track removed by request.
Strictly for the hardcore minimalists. These Chicago dudes play long form pieces off of single chords, and they play hard. This is the kind of power drone that transports. Gmaj7 has two side long pieces, two sides of the same coin, the first being a deep and detailed mind expander that pauses about 3/4 of the way through and turns into a dark & heavy many-layered wall of bliss. The B side is the first time these guys brought in some drums, so it’s perhaps a bit too dynamic for you purists, but it’s an elegant transition and it works beautifully, an uplifting and immersive track that builds organically to a lush, euphoric climax, sounding like a fuckin drone rockstar. I’m not sure how Chord haven’t already joined the ranks of modern minimalists like Sun Circle, but hopefully they’re on their way. Maybe Gmaj7 won’t be the one to vault them to the top due to its badass drums, but this is an absolutely killer slab of drone nonetheless. Drops next week on some sexy limited vinyl with handscreened jackets thanks to MIE.