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 »
Kyle Bobby Dunn – Spem In Alium & Her Unable (Students Of Decay)
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.
Anne Guthrie – Strongly Leaning With Irregular Crown (Students Of Decay)
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.
Secret Pyramid – A Descent (Students Of Decay)
Holy cow now this is a fucking record. Secret Pyramid, aka Amir Abbey, has brought us a stunning display of soft drone perfection, the stuff dreams are made of. This really is the embodiment of softness, no hard edges or jagged angles to be found, the stark sphere of a billiard ball obscured behind a gauzy veil, taking clips of melodies and stretching them out, looped on themselves and buried under a thick Basinskian blanket, piano notes floating out from the black green of an ocean cave, finding their way to the top and caught in the subtle surface shimmer, everything washed in a comforting melancholic static and hanging in the delicate balance between sleep & consciousness, a magically golden midnight haze that opens up half-forgotten memories both tender & somber. Super special stuff from a new-to-me dude courtesy of the ever-trustworthy Students Of Decay.
Aquarelle – Within / Without (Students Of Decay)
This is Aquarelle’s (aka Ryan Potts) first full length in two years, although he kept us tided over with that Alex Cobb split and a new track on my free 5 year anniversary comp You’re All The Fucking Best, so while there hasn’t been a total lack of His Majesty’s drones, there certainly hasn’t been anything like this. August Undone is pure brilliance. Take all your other lush records and melt ’em away because this is the only one you’ll ever need, this is the most blissful fucking thing I’ve ever heard, a massively dense wall of heavenly sound that’s somehow still soft & weightless, an ever-shifting crystal fog that overwhelms you but gives you moments of transcendent clarity, a thousand layers of everything, guitars, banjos, reeds, pianos, all in their unadorned perfection and processed to the stars and back, bombastic muffled percussion, endless loops of dream pop rhythms, taking your breath away every second of its all-too-short life, with unexpected explosions that will send you reeling into a euphoric coma sounding like in Sunshine when he’s inside the sun as he reignites it with his Manhattan-sized bomb, absolute fucking beauty, a cacophonic symphony of your unconscious ideals realized, that feeling of blood rushing to your head in sheer exuberance, this is the sound of Potts making a perfect goddamn record. Vinyl comes out mid-July but digital is out right now in all the usual places, so go forth and make your life brighter.
En – The Sea Saw Swell (Students Of Decay)
Brand new one on the forever awesome Students Of Decay (who has now semi-joined forces with Experimedia), Already Gone being only the second release from the two En dudes (Maxwell August Croy & James Devane), making truly wonderful ambient drones. Lush and warm, slow swells in the midnight ocean glowing under the moonlight, golden wheat fields dancing as far as the eye can see, slow ether drift, floating in calm drones while every other sound is a million miles away, and a full side-long piece of exquisite beauty, the definition of a slow burner, relaxed electronics & strings effortlessly intertwined, a woven blanket of heavenly bliss, textured like a fine white sand at the edge of the sea, growing to a subtle, harmless, glorious wall of static. This is the real deal, true blue dreams. You want this on vinyl, obviously, and it’s limited, obviously, so hurry your ass up.
Aquarelle – A Strange Sweet Woe (Students Of Decay)
Absolutely incredible. Ryan Potts (the Rest & Noise dude) has made the most stunning drone album and it’s the first in Student Of Decay’s new subscription series. Overwhelmingly beautiful, waves of pure golden static perfection that don’t let up. Textured like a yellow tree caught glowing in the sunrise, or sand dunes being molded by the wind. Weeping joy, soothing sadness, painfully euphoric on every level. Piano & guitar acoustics woven in smooth contrast to the mostly digital canvas, giving way to some stretched out rhythmic loops. As warm and inviting as drone should be. The essential autumn record to last you through next spring. Another fuckin year end contender. No idea how to handle all this awesome.