Posts Tagged ‘list’

Top 20 Drone Records Of 2014

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. I fucking love making my Top Drone Records list. Not only do I get to listen to all of my favorite drone records from the past 12 months basically non-stop for a month, I also get to re-share all these fucking amazing records that you may have overlooked or never even known about.

This year’s list is a bit stricter on what I considered “drone.” Except that was entirely unintentional. It just so happens there weren’t a lot of “sorta kinda mostly drone” records that were as outstanding as these 20. And while this list does cap out at 20, know that every other drone record I reviewed is tied for the 21 spot. I love each and every one of them for their own unique qualities. (Here would be some terrible joke about how all drone records sound the same which I hear all. the fucking. time.)

And for those of you new to my Top Drone list, know this is a list based on emotion and how these records affected me. I don’t try to make any objective statements of “best record” or anything like that, and when I do, it’s purely subjective and hyperbolic. These records are my personal favorites because they resonate with me in ways that are frequently indescribable.

So as not to clog the front page, the 20 jaw dropping drone records are after the jump.

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Album Review

Halfway Through 2014: Look At All These Killer Fucking Records I Missed

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.

 
 

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Mixes

Black (Metal) Mixmas IV

black metal mixmas iv album cover
 

In a year where extreme metal sub-genres coalesced into a homogenized pile of badass, black metal stood its ground like a bleak beacon, giving us some of the truest & weirdest records the genre has seen in a while. This mix takes tracks from my favorite black metal records that came out this year (two, Mare & Dressed In Streams, compiled tracks from previous now-unavailable releases). Last year’s Volume III was a 3 parter, so it only made sense to make Volume IV a 4 parter, each the appropriate length of a mix to burn onto a CD if you so desire.

Each part has been vaguely divided into traditional raw (parts 1 & 2), post (part 3), and experimental (part 4). And I thought that since there’s a ton of songs here (54!) and that one of my favorite records didn’t make this mix because the tracks were too long, I’d give you an actual Top Black Metal list. I wrote about most, but not all of these records. I linked to the reviews when applicable.

So here’s my favorite 2013 black metal records and a 4 hour 22 minute mix of the raddest heaviness you’ll hear this year. It should keep you company during this overly joyful season. I’ll see you next year.

 

Top 15 Black Metal Records Of 2013
15. Aosoth – IV: Arrow In Heart (Agonia)
14. Mord’A’Stigmata – Ansia (Pagan Records)
13. Gris – À L’Âme Enflammée, L’Äme Constellée (Sepulchral Productions)
12. Leucosis – Leucosis (self released)
11. Ruin Lust – Ruin Lust (Psychic Violence)
10. Loss Of Self – Twelve Minutes (The Flenser)
9. Mare – Spheres Like Death / Throne Of The Thirteenth Witch (Terratur Possessions)
8. Fell Voices – Regnum Saturni (Gilead Media)
7. Charnel House – Black Blood (Sygil)
6. Spektr – Cypher (Agonia)
5. Hope Drone – Hope Drone (OSCL)
4. Surachai – Embraced (self released)
3. Rorcal – Világvége (Cal Of Ror / SickManGettingSick / Lost Pilgrims / Wolves & Vibrancy)
2. Cultes Des Ghoules – Henbane (Hells Headbangers)
1. Paysage D’Hiver – Das Tor (Kunsthall)

 

Download Black (Metal) Mixmas IV

Part 1
Blut Der Nacht – No Hope To See The Light Of A New Day (from Sargnagel)
Sun Worship – Castle High (from Surpass Eclipse)
Wulkanaz – Paraskaiwe Paúrpurôn (from Paúrpura Fræovíbôkôs)
Galdr – Oath Of Blood (from Ancient Light Of The Stars)
Ruin Lust – Primal Vision (from Ruin Lust)
Arckanum – Spell (from Fenris Kindir)
Wild’s Reprisal – The Broken Circle (from Defiance Enthroned)
Black Cilice – Astral Cipher (from Summoning The Night)
Tukaaria – Chasms In Creation (from Raw To The Rapine)
Nightrite – Black Moon Rituals (from Black Moon Rituals)
Atvm – 8,000,000,000 Years And Counting (from Natura Naturata)
Frozen Ocean – Vanviddsang II (from Vanviddsanger)
Mord’A’Stigmata – Praefatio Pro Defunctis (from Ansia)

Part 2
Hexer – I:III (from Hexer)
Stilla – Tidlösa Vindar (from Till Stilla Falla)
Cara Neir – Closing Doors (from Portals To A Better, Dead World)
Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult – The Eviscerator (from Necrovision)
Mare – Nachmahrwalzer – Invocation Of The Succubus (from Spheres Like Death / Throne Of The Thirteenth Witch)
Shadows Of The Fallen – Monotheist (from Monotheist)
Aosoth – Temple Of Knowledge (from IV: Arrow In Heart)
Lonesummer – The Destruction Of Words (from Planning For Burial / Lonesummer Split)
Smorg – Moonlight Eternity (from A Morbid Chapter)
Nuclear Corpse – Infernal Legions (from Infernal Legions)
Naaghan – Bloodlust (from Demo)
Manii – Liv-Øydar (from Kollaps)
Leucosis – Aponea (from Leucosis)

Part 3
Hope Drone – Advent (from Hope Drone)
Dressed In Streams – Deep Saffron (from Dressed In Streams)
Redwood Hill – September (from Descender)
Misery – II (from Melancolie)
Clouds Collide – Deathless (from Until The Wind Stops Blowing…)
So Hideous – Rhapsody (from Last Poem/First Light)
Loss Of Self – Paradise Overgrown (from Twelve Minutes)
Panopticon – Eulogy (from Vestiges / Panopticon Split)
L’Homme Éléphant – Mist (from L’Homme Éléphant II)
Ov Hollowness – Grey (from The World Ends)
Súl Ad Astral (The Clenching Void (from Súl Ad Astral)
Life Has No Meaning – Faced With My Own Demise (from Demo)
Ragana – Curved Grass (from Unbecoming)
Cosmic Church – Näkyjä Indigolähteeltä (from Ylistys)

Part 4
Earthenwomb – Miser’s Blade (from Ninjas For Hire / Earthenwomb Split)
Peste Noire – La Blonde (from Peste Noire)
Botanist – Arboreal Gallows (Mandragora I) (from IV: Mandragora)
Gris – Dil (from À L’Âme Enflammée, L’Äme Constellée)
Spektr – Antimatter (from Cypher)
Charnel House – Once Upon A Dream (from Black Blood)
Servile Sect – Evoke (from Glowing)
Cultes Des Ghoules – Festival Of Devotion (from Henbane)
Ihsahn – Tacit 2 (from Das Seelenbrechen)
Oranssi Pazuzu – Tyhjä Temppeli (from Valonielu)
Rorcal – II (from Vilagvege)
Trist – Květy Snových Dálek (from Večerní Samoty)
Sutekh Hexen – …Of Emanation (from Monument Of Decay)
Surachai – Surrender (from Embraced)

Top 20 Drone Records Of 2013

TWENTY!! Goddamn right. The Top Drone list could no longer be contained by the traditional 10. I’m not doing 20 because there was just too much awesome drone this year. While that’s true, it’s also true every year. No, I’m doing it because there were so few standout albums. Everything was so fucking awesome it’s like everyone juiced their skills but were all stopped by a glass ceiling or something. I mean my Top 5 are almost interchangeable. Well, not really, but sort of.

So, as usual, this list is about my personal favorite droners. Nothing objective going on. And, like AGB in general, I tend to favor the under-represented. And I don’t usually allow reissues, but I had to bend the rules a bit for no other reason than that one reissue is so, so fucking good and I didn’t know it was a reissue until I started making this list.

And you know I only write about the highest quality shit. So anything that was posted this year and tagged as Drone is basically just as good as everything you’ll see on this list. So browse that genre if you’re still jonesing for some more drone.

Onto the list!
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Album Review

(Nearly) Year End Roundup

This isn’t a year end top list or anything. This is just a huge post with short comments on a fuckton of records (23 and unranked, but Sea Of Bones gets top billing) that I’ve been jamming and haven’t had a chance to write up. I also wanted to do this because at least a couple of these will be on my Top Drone list and I wanted to say something about them before the list comes out. Scope the goods after the jump.

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Album Review

Halfway Through 2013: Look At All These Killer Fucking Records I Missed

For a variety of terrible reasons, I have a hard time writing about records that didn’t get submitted to me for review. That means I come across tons of incredible shit that I don’t make time for on AGB. A lot of the records in this mid-year roundup fall into that category. Regardless of how I found out about them, all of these are 100% awesome and I’ve been playing the fuck out of each and every one of them.

Also, I have a totally bullshit & ever-shifting line that I try not to cross when writing about records that wobbles between how popular the album/band/label is and how much I love the record. This list is made up of stuff I probably would’ve reviewed if I had the time, but there’s a lot I’ve been jamming hard that was “too big” in my eyes for AGB, lots of high profile metal like Deafheaven, Altar Of Plagues, Inter Arma, The Body, etc, and then there’s stuff like William Tyler’s super bitchin Impossible Truth, which, if it didn’t come out on Merge, I most likely would’ve written it up, but then there’s some that regardless of how much press they get, I can’t help but praise the shit out of them. So those are my half-assed rules and what went through my head when making this list.

There’s a few records on here that might make it onto my year end drone list, so if you’re the gamblin type, start up a pool with your pals and maybe you can strike it rich.

Since this is a pretty big list (28 and unranked) I’ve put everything after the jump so it doesn’t clog up the front page. Here’s hoping you find some in here that you haven’t heard of yet.
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Mixes

Black (Metal) Mixmas III


 
This is the third installment of Black (Metal) Mixmas. The “Metal” is in parentheses because I hoped to make the Black Mixmas/Black Christmas pun a tad more obvious and because this isn’t entirely black metal. There’s some black doom, black noise, black ambient, etc. But it’s primarily black metal so don’t lose your shit if you’re a purist.

Speaking of which, this here’s a three parter, and each part has its own aesthetic. Part I starts off with your more straightforward black metal. It’s still raw and brootal and super awesome, just not too many bells & whistles. Part II gets a bit more melodic and moves towards some of that shoegazey post-etc stuff. Part III (my personal favorite) gets totally fucked up and brings in the twisted shit, extra raw, extra noisy, extra extraordinary. Each part stands on its own as a killer mix but back to back to back they make the biggest most badass black metal adventure you’ve ever been on.

As with everything else on this site, I tend to give priority to the under-represented and pass over the more high profile bands. That means as amazing as Ash Borer and Panopticon are, they don’t need to be here. But tons of awesome blackened shit came out this year that wasn’t on Profound Lore and in fact is available for free/name your price downloads on Bandcamp. I linked to all the ones I knew about but dig around and you might find some more. Also, everything on this mix (except Esequiem’s track) came out in 2012, so consider this the unofficial AGB Best Of Black Metal list.

I’m taking an AGB vacation for the holidays starting now. If I’m not back before the new year, I’ll be back after the new year. These 3+ hours of depravity should keep you sane until then.

Download Black (Metal) Mixmas III

Part I
1. Aven – The Last Thought Of Judas
2. Kaevum – La Mitt Rike Komme
3. WORT – plumplestiltskib (download)
4. Mgła – With Hearts Toward None V
5. Pendulum – Le Verre
6. Klor – Helmet Overgrown With Weeds
7. Alkerdeel – Horsesaw
8. Larvae – Cold Dead Face (download)
9. Jute Gyte – The Cry Essaying The Waters (download)
10. Lucifugum – Щелочь антинатализма
11. Obolus – Desolation (download)
12. Permafrost – Ende
13. Esequiem – An Old Castle In The Fog

Part II
1. Vattnet Viskar – Weakness
2. Aegrotum – Thy Perdition Manifest
3. El-Ahrairah – Drown Alone
4. Loss Of Self – The Mind; It’s Form And Function (download)
5. FIN – Insignia (download)
6. Aisuragua – A Mirror Reflecting The Silence
7. Ragana – Burning Structures (download)
8. Rhinocervs – Untitled (track 1 from RH-12)
9. Hordes – The Darkest Conjuration (download)
10. Infinitas – Immerwährende Nächte
11. Daughters Of Sophia – III: Black Sun Enlightment
12. Seirom – Strands Of Golden Light

Part III
1. Sutekh Hexen – Lead Us In Warfare
2. Mhönos – Ex Nihilo… Ad Nihilum…
3. Funeral Depression – Visions Of Broken Life
4. Misery – Sous L’égide Des Martyrs (download)
5. Gates – Forest Passageway, Hallway to the Void
6. OEDE – 8063 (download)
7. Затухание – зора утихает (download)
8. Dead Times & TRTRKMMR – An Appendectomy
9. Trepaneringsritualen – All Hail The Black Flame
10. Cloak Of Altering – Ancient Paths Through Timeless Voids
11. Immaculate Paragon Of Insanity – Invaders From Darkness
12. Venowl – Hung Alive By The Ribs To A Gallows

Technical Note: Затухание’s whole album is way loud, like, louder than anything else on this mix. I tried to tone it down in Audacity but I’m not totally sure how that worked out. So just beware. When that track comes on, you might shit yourself.

Top 10 Drone Records Of 2012

A couple months ago I was lamenting that 2012 had shit for good drone records. The words of a madman, clearly. This year was chock full of goodness, although to be honest, nothing this year is quite as good as my favorite drone record from 2011, Nicholas Szczepanik’s Please Stop Loving Me, which will always be the best thing ever. Still, there’s tons of amazing drone this year and it was damn near impossible to keep it trimmed to a tidy 10.

I know genre-specific lists are already niche enough, but I decided to give myself a couple new rules to help narrow my focus. First was defining “Drone Record,” which I hadn’t really done before. If you know the site, then you’ll know my drone tag is liberal. I throw that fucker on everything. But to me, for a record to be on a list of drone records, its top-level genre has to be drone. If I was cataloging it by genre, it would have to go under “Drone.” Not “Noise,” not “Black Metal,” not “Doom,” not “Folk.” Those could be sub-genres, just not the main one. This cleared out a lot of records. It meant I couldn’t include Horseback’s Half Blood (probably my favorite non-drone record this year), Gates’ Eintraum, Sutekh Hexen’s Behind The Throne, etc.

Second, I decided no reissues or box sets. I’ve sorta followed this one in the past, but I didn’t want highly publicized massive tomes like William Basinski’s The Disintegration Loops or Pauline Oliveros’ epic 12 disc Reverberations stealing the thunder here.

As you know, I only write about the most top notch shit that gets me super psyched. Every drone record that came out this year and I reviewed should be on this list. So go digging through the drone tag and find the rest that just barely missed the cut. They’re all #11.
 
 

10. Moonshine BluesThrough (Hidden Vibes)
“Floating in the grey and rapt in heartache, while sheets & swells of euphoria shimmer in the dark, dragged to the edge of oblivion and left alone…”

One of the best drone releases this year is free. So go download this bleak beast right now and you can feel totally guilt free doing so. And it came out of left field, too. Self released (on his own label), solo Ukrainian guy making some sad fuckin jams, usually as Endless Melancholy, but venturing out into more “ambient” territory as Moonshine Blues. He’s got this blues drone thing down pat and it was more or less an experiment. A+ dude.
 
 

9. WastelandersCosmic Despair (Calls & Correspondence / Basses Frequences / Space Idea / Hewhocorrupts Inc.)
“The first few tracks are as depressing as it gets, gloom thick enough to asphyxiate on, solid minimal melancholy that turns your heart into lead and brings gods to tears.”

Gloomy. As. Fuck. The kind of sadness reserved for royalty eulogies & the internal monologue leading to suicides. Long torturous tracks that take the cake for most depressing drones. And super fucking gorgeous.
 
 

8. ConcernMisfortune (Isounderscore)
“…nervous nondescript fumbling & fidgeting to keep busy while the drones flutter, then a huge blissful shimmering cloud of hand-wringing uncertainty, slightly transparent and hovering right in front of the sun.”

Edgy box harp drone that’s as jangling as it is soothing. When a drone record has a certain novelty (like an atypical instrument as the primary focus) I usually get sucked in regardless, but this one is outstanding in its own right. A bittersweet swansong from Concern, Misfortune being the last release under that moniker. One of two Isounderscore releases on this list because that label is 100% quality.
 
 

7. Andrew Weathers & Andrew MarinoWe Don’t Have Sun Like This (Full Spectrum)
“…always with a delicate tenderness that feels like Weathers is hugging you through your speakers.”

A unique book release with no physical music included. Marino did the photos for the book and Weathers’ tunes come via download. I honestly can’t get enough of Weathers. Everything he does is magic. The absolute perfect blend of folk & drone, he fucking nails it every time. His banjo can do no wrong and his voice is probably the only one that should be allowed to sing over drone.
 
 

6. PortraitsPortraits (Important)
“…an impossibly minimal drone that’s almost too beautiful to handle.”

The supergroup to end supergroups (this time it’s true I promise). Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, Evan Caminiti, Jon Porras, Gregg Kowalsky, Marielle Jakobsons, and Maxwell August Croy to name about half of them, all working in perfect unison, somehow making harmonies that I still can’t wrap my head around. Long form drones that some work years to achieve, these guys kicked out while they all still have their regular bands & shit going on. Unreal.
 
 

5. Kyle Bobby DunnIn Miserum Stercus (Komino)
“…the soft subtleties & elegant dances are still the core, but instead of charming or uplifting, we’re given somber & melancholic, tones dipping into ethereal, haunted dreams…”

Nope, not Bring Me The Head Of…, this one is better because it’s darker and a more unique addition to KBD’s discography. Plus it’s just better. The most beautiful misery I’ve ever heard, overwrought but without tension, intimate & devastating, delicate & harrowing. This is Dunn at the top of his fucking game.
 
 

4. EUS, Postdrome, & SaåadSustained Layers (BLWBCK)
“Dense and soaring, black anvil clouds rolling over open plains, always on the edge, seeing the sun rays glow and the grey mass shift, an impending fury that always threatens, never breaks…”

This is beyond gloom. This is as dark as you get before you hit black ambient. It would be downright terrifying if it wasn’t so fucking majestic. And I’d never heard of any of these three guys or the label before. Totally opened my eyes to a new minimal darkness. Supremely awesome.
 
 

3. Nicholas SzczepanikThe Truth Of Transience (Isounderscore)
“…a wonderful long form rhythm, it starts out menacing, all horror movie suspense style, with percussive gong-like warnings and imitation bowed cymbals, turning into a loud and blissfully unnerving swirl that eventually fades to nothing…”

Szczepanik put out 3 records this year (this, We Make Life Sad, and Luz, a collab with Federico Durand as Every Hidden Color). And Szczepanik is probably my most favoritest droner right now so why & how the fuck did I chose just one? First, not only did he take the number one spot last year but he was on that list twice (his Ante Algo Azul series couldn’t be skipped). And while this is a totally biased & subjective list, I still feel the need to be a little fair to everyone who’s not Szczepanik. I mean, if he put out 10 records, chances are they’d comprise the whole list, so I tried to restrain myself and only picked one. While Luz is incredible, it didn’t hit me the way his other two did. And We Make Life Sad is one of the most personal and unique albums this year, truly amazing, but I thought I could exclude it due to it being less droney than The Truth Of Transience. Oh, and because Transience is fucking stunning. Out of the three, this one unquestionably wins the gold.
 
 

2. High Aura’dSanguine Futures (Bathetic)
“…a foggy midnight journey through the middle of the ocean, with distant muffled canons fighting off some ancient sea beast, mythical & literal sirens wailing, calling with sweetness & alarm, chimes and clatter rattling in the still darkness…”

How the hell did High Aura’d make a record this goddamn good? Seriously, this is amazing in so many ways. Dark & minimal rumblings that breathe soft and threaten your life. I literally can’t imagine him ever making a better record than Sanguine Futures and it’s only his third outing as High Aura’d. I’m pretty sure he will at some point, though, because this dude gets exponentially better with each release. But even if he doesn’t, this is a black star that’ll forever outshine so many other records.
 
 

1. SuperstormsSuperstorms (Experimedia)
“Crushed bits and burnt clouds, a blurred fury dipped in bliss, sunsets viewed through a grit lens, a trillion grey sky pixels fractured with the glow shining through, brittle static & warm drones blown out, scratched out, washed out…”

There’s a lot of dark & depressing shit on this list (tough times this past year) but the Number One sidesteps my masochism in favor of something that resonates so profoundly with me. Superstorms crafts the kind of drone that I feel is at my core, the kind of drone I crave more than any other: gritty, blissful, and fucking loud. I feel most at peace when records like this are so loud they obscure everything else in my brain. I can barely stand how fucking awesome Superstorms is. Serious next level drones. I’ve never heard anything else quite like it. I hope that you like this even half as much as I do because FUUUCK I love it too fucking much and the world would be a better place if everyone shared in this stupidly perfect love.

Forgotten Fifteen

This year has been like every other year, in which I don’t review a ton of shit that’s awesome because I’m busy reviewing a ton of other shit that’s awesome. That’s the name of the game. I don’t think I’ve done a mid-year roundup before, not a big fan of ‘em, but since that’s definitely the cool thing to do in 2012, and because I know some items on my year end list haven’t gotten any airtime over here, I thought it would be a grand idea to call out some records that I personally have been jamming like a motherfucker. So here’s 15 records I should have reviewed. They’re not ranked but feel free to speculate wildly if any of these might make the coveted number one spot on my Top 10 Drone list come the end of the year/life as we know it.
 

HorsebackHalf Blood (Relapse)
Probably the best record to come out this year (but best drone record? tough call). This has been my go to since it came out, blending black metal and drone with a dusty psych. Jenks Miller’s vocals are thick & gruff and tear right fucking through the lush guitars. Yeah, everyone & their little sister have been raving about this one but that should just tell you how fucking spectacular it is.
 


PortraitsPortraits (Important)
Portraits are a supergroup and a half, with Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, Evan Caminiti, Jon Porras, Lisa McGee, Gregg Kowalsky, Marielle Jakobsons, Maxwell August Croy, Steven Dye, Tony Cross, and Michael Elrod, all making an impossibly minimal drone that’s almost too beautiful to handle. How they were able to corral themselves into making an album so singular and so seamless is beyond me. It’s a shame knowing their output can never keep up with my hopes because after hearing this I want at least another record every year. Something tells me that’s never gonna happen.
 


PanopticonKentucky (Handmade Birds / Pagan Flames)
This one might be making Euronymous twitch in his grave. Kentucky is some truly bizarre black metal that’s sandwiched with some old banjos n bluegrass. Panopticon’s always been one for weirdness but this is a whole other level, some tracks could be taken out of context and your gramp would think it was from one of his old 78s. Gives Half Blood a run for its money for black metal ROTY.
 


Wreck & ReferenceNo Youth (The Flenser)
These Californian devastators seriously don’t give a fuck about genres. This is one that really defies categorization and does a damn good job at evading description. Black metal, doom, noise, sure, all of that, then a decent dose of wtf and leaning heavy on the post-everything. They’re doing their own thing and they’re fucking obliterating everything that stood before them.
 


Mario Diaz De Leon / ONEIROGENHypnos (Denovali / Shinkoyo)
De Leon put out Hypnos under his own name earlier this year with Shinkoyo taking care of the CD version. Then he decided the sound was different enough from his normal modern classical style music to put it under a different name, ONEIROGEN. All further releases in this style will be using that name. Now, Denovali is reissuing Hypnos on vinyl next month (using the ONEIROGEN moniker). You definitely need to keep an eye out for it because this is fucking stellar and might get snatched up quickly. Crazy thick synths (and guitars?) doing something dark & blissful, noisy & droney, like an industrial/power electronics dude taking cues from OPN and Goblin and scoring a film based on a Poe story. Super fucking awesome. One of the best albums this year.
 


Pauline OliverosReverberations: Tape And Electronic Music 1961-1970 (Important)
A truly epic collection, 12 discs of Oliveros’ legendary tape & electronics work, early avant garde shit that has mostly never seen the light of day for us commoners. She’s a legit master in her field and having something this comprehensive with detailed liner notes in a sweetly packaged box set is more than I could ever hope for. A thousand thanks to Important and the many contributors for putting this together.
 


Mount EerieClear Moon (P.W. Elverum & Sun)
Clear Moon may not have the shredding black metal moments that Wind’s Poem had, but that just means this is a little more consistent, it’s no less bleak or dark, and it’s just as tender. It’s kinda hard not to fall head over heals for everything Elverum puts out but this may be my favorite thing he’s done, ever. Absolutely amazing.
 


Sutekh HexenBehind The Throne (Magic Bullet)
These dudes are set to take over today’s black metal scene and tear it to shreds. They’ve put out a handful of releases in the past year or two, but Behind The Throne is their latest and it’s the best fucking thing ever. Torrents of noise and vocal static, blistering atmospherics and destructive guitars, this is so insanely good it’s hard to wrap your brain around due to it being melted, etc. So much more than your usual black metal noise.
 


Man ForeverPansophical Cataract (Thrill Jockey)
Our generation’s Buddy Rich, Kid Millions is out to make sure people fully understand what it means to be a drummer. Man Forever is his drum project that sounds like a Niagara of octopuses playing a Niblockian cacophony. Smooth long form drumming that’s blissful and engaging with a thousand layers of drone to rub you all the right ways.
 


InfinitasJourney To Infinity (Self-Mutilation Services / Razed Soul)
Solo German black metal project with a debut to make you want to jump out of a plane without a parachute. This is some killer post rock stuff mashed with devastating DSBM, crazy soaring guitars and crushing crescendos with torturous wailing screeches that would be like nails on a chalkboard if if wasn’t so harmoniously complemented by the cloud surfing bleakness.
 


AufgehobenFragments Of The Marble Plan (Holy Mountain)
When are these guys gonna get theirs? They already have a doting cult of noiseheads that snag everything possible. Maybe we’re just stingy? Whatever, Aufgehoben’s newest slab of concrete chaos is in a sexy gatefold courtesy of Holy Mountain and is absolutely flooring. Honestly, this is some special speaker melting noise, astonishing even to the noise naysayers in its ability to knock the wind out of you. There’s nothing quite like an Aufgehoben record and this is some of their best work to date.
 


Fenn O’BergIn Hell (Editions MEGO)
You’re pretty much guaranteed something fantastic when Fennesz, Jim O’Rourke, and Peter Rehberg get together, but In Hell takes their killer collabs to another dimension. Namely, a dark and disturbing dimension. All of it was recorded at performances during their 2010 tour of Japan and while it’s generally just an amazing drone/dark ambient record, it takes some unexpected turns with strange samples and furious anger. It gets absolutely bombastic, thick & blissful, melodic static paving the way for sharp shimmer & delicate lullabies. It goes in a hundred different directions all at once, impossible to predict but infinitely awesome.
 


Duane PitreFeel Free (Important)
Duane’s a dude who’s been doing his minimal thing for years, under the radar and somehow missing his deserved notoriety, until Feel Free came out this year and everyone’s like “whoa this guy is fuckin rad.” Right you are, everyone. This is a group performance of his “Feel Free” composition, an electro-acoustic wonder bringing a much needed elegance to the table. Processed strings & guitars weave their drones through organic plucks & bows, softness & kindness found in every breath. A truly superb album that craves a wide-eyed audience.
 


Jon Mueller & James PlotkinTerminal Velocity (Taiga)
A match made in heaven, Mueller & Plotkin have taken their respective talents and bestowed upon us a grand work of art. Both enormous & subtle, it’s an album for deep focus, it stretches time like a meditation guru, taking a lifetime to dwell in one space and slowly crawling to a mass of heavy static drones and hypnotic drums. Listening to this will fundamentally change you.
 


Jute GyteIsolation (Jeshimoth Entertainment)
What the fucked up black metal for the twisted and depraved. One Missouri soul with a ridiculous amount of releases (10+ in less than 2 years), although not all of them hitting the black metal mark, Isolation is certainly a bizarre beast of hardened blackness. Screechy vocals, lurching rhythms coupled with machine gun blast beats, atonal & wonky guitars, tossing in a droning euphoric track in the middle to make sure you don’t go insane before the hour of demoralized noise is up. “Unique” doesn’t even come close.

Top 10 Drone Records Of 2011

This year’s list was too damn hard. There was just so much awesomeness, it was almost impossible to keep it to 10. That’s just how lists are, I guess.

Since this is an AGB list and AGB = me, I allowed myself the freedom that an indie blogger should have. Namely, defining “drone” however I damn well please. However, I still had some criteria. If a record had some songs that were hardly drone at all, but still embodied the drone aesthetic as a whole, I kept it. There were plenty of records that I wanted to mold into the list but no matter which way I looked at it, they just couldn’t be considered “drone” (especially the new Ricardo Donoso and Colin Stetson albums).

If you’re new here, there are sound samples on all of the original reviews and I beseech you to listen to anything on this list you have yet to hear. I assure you it will be worth your time 100%. But…

On to the list! On to the heckling!


10. High Aura’dMooncusser (YDLMIER)
“Soaring Windy & Carl euphoria, brief Fahey picks, and a wall of absolute beauty.”

Boston’s killerest scene stomping dude on Boston’s raddest darned tape label.


9. Nicholas SzczepanikAnte Algo Azul (self released)
“There’s mournful Basinski textures, sci-fi tractor beams, static harmonies, Eliane Radigue homages, all wrapped in Szczepanik’s own meditative perspective.”

Technically 12 separate items but they’re all Ante Algo Azul. And the ID3 tags on the official downloads have each one as an individual track of the full 12 song “album.” So suck it. Plus, this shit is the greatest.


8. Mind Over MirrorsThe Voice Rolling (Digitalis)
“Stretched out gauze floating through pink/grey bliss, endless layers of reed textured harmonies, all of the fantastic things about harmoniums but given a new life through Fennelly.”

Harmoniums always do it for me and this is like the harmonium record to destroy all harmonium records.


7. MountainsAir Museum (Thrill Jockey)
“Mountains bounce back and forth between straight up drone and pulsing minimal space techno, keeping a nice balance, never cemented in their textured planar earthly past but not jumping ship for the OPN New Age.”

Always keepin me on my toes. Mountains took it to the next motherfuckin level on this one.


6. EmuulThe Drawing Of The line (Digitalis)
“Blurred & blown out drones that breathe heavy, swaying in the breeze, scorched at the edges.”

Sad n blissful. Zen x100.


5. RaleSome Kissed Charms That Would Not Protect Them (Isounderscore)
“…a heaving sweetheart, giving you massive swells of dense intimidation… conjuring images of watching a thunderstorm roll in on the beach… enjoying it without fear and wallowing in the glory of the lightening sky, the majesty of nature beautifully overwhelming.”

Rale fucking nailed it on this one. And no one knows about it! Only 300 copies made, came out in May, and it’s still available. What’s wrong with you people! This is truly original and has AMAZING packaging.


4. Lawrence EnglishThe Peregrine (Experimedia)
“Like the finest grade sandpaper, with a tooth so smooth, the grit almost disappears and you’re left with drone as glorious as humanly possible.”

Didn’t think Mr. English could make something more satisfying than Kiri No Oto but goddammit he sure did. Unreal.


3. Kyle Bobby DunnWays Of Meaning (Desire Path)
“This is the most delicate bliss I’ve ever experienced. 100% shining purity that doesn’t need to be cranked to 11 to get the job done. It swirls softly & effortlessly turns hearts into puddles of droney delight.”

First of all, KBD on vinyl? YES. Then, the best KBD record yet? Also, YES. It has one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard on it, too. It’s just math, you guys. Of course this is on the list.


2. Andrew Weathers EnsembleWe’re Not Cautious (Sleep On The Floor)
“It’s unbelievably warm, so rich & soft, tender & charming, absolutely beautiful in every way. It can be played at full volume and it won’t overpower, it’ll simply fill your home with the most delicately lush sounds you can imagine.”

Probably the least droney record on this list but it’s got enough to break into the official “Drone” category for me. Either way, this is literally one of the best records I’ve ever heard.


1. Nicholas SzczepanikPlease Stop Loving Me (Streamline)
“As wonderfully serene as it is, the whole time you’re wading waist deep in emotion, the sustained & intertwined tones heavy hearted, cascading heartache, longing, and hope. An elegiac softness matched with poignant massiveness that ends on the brightest, most uplifting note, fading into the horizon.”

This is the one. The best record of the year. Hands down. No contest. One of the best records of all time, in fact. I shit you not. As the kids say these days, unimpeachable. Or is it unfuckwithable? Lets just go with the universally understood: PERFECT.