Archive for Drone

Xela – The Dead Sea (Type) 2006

Posted in Drone, Music, noise with tags , , on March 13, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

I’m a bit in love with Type records at the moment. Besides releasing one of the two best records released last year , the mighty Going Places, Type is also home to Black to Comm, Grouper, Helios and Xela, one of my latest discoveries. I know I’m late to the party on Xela, but I’m mildly hooked on his variant of free improvised drone with avant garde interludes. Think of Daniel Menche crossed with the Vibracathedral Orchestra.

On The Dead Sea, Xela displays his fascination with the films of Italian horror auteurs. It’s a creepy, unsettling  experience but only peripherally so. Xela toys with the suggestion of horror, foreboding, unease, sadness and  grief. Even when he encapsulates beauty such as on the second track Linseed, the layers of effects and other instruments which are added  means that as a listener I can’t just relax. There is something not quite right – the memory of wind chimes, the trickle of an isolated creek, a child’s music box. This is a lush treat of soundtrack style composition. Equally lovely and unsettling, Xela is one of the artists I’m going to try to listen to more of this year.

Kevin Drumm – Imperial Distortion (Hospital) 2008

Posted in Drone, Kevin Drumm, Music, noise with tags , , , on March 9, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

The problem with discovering a new artist is that it might be entirely possible that the first record that you hear might not exactly be representative of the work that the artist is known for. Take for example Kevin Drumm. I had listened to his great split with Daniel Menche some time earlier but Imperial Distortion was my first experience of solo Drumm. Most sensible people would have started with Sheer Hellish Miasma which is considered by many (including me) to be one of the finest noise records ever made. On SHM, Drumm produces a harsh electronic guitar masterpiece. Imperial Distortion is a much more muted ride.

In a recent interview, Drumm said that he created the sounds of Imperial Distortion from discarded work that he rediscovered. Pieces that had a less dense quality about them. So in effect this record is made from work produced between 1995 and 2008 which has been processed, tampered and played with to create one of the finest meditative drone records I own. Hardcore Drumm fans might tend to be a bit dismissive of Imperial Distortion due to an absence of noise per se, but if you pick you way through his back catalogue the drone has always been there; usually sheathed in layers of blistering distortion or fuzzed out walls of extreme volume but they were there. Drumm called these “go nowhere tracks” but you know, sometimes the fun is is staying in the same place.

Birchville Cat Motel – With Maples Ablaze (Scarcelight Recordings) 2004

Posted in Birchville Cat Motel, Drone, Music, New Zealand Bands, noise with tags , , , , on February 26, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

Two of the first “out there” experimental/noise bands that I heard were the almight Yellow Swans and New Zealand’s Birchville Cat Motel, basically the alias of Campbell Kneale. Sadly both “bands” are now gone. They’re all still making records under different names and both bands left a legacy of fantastic records.

It’s worthwhile tracking down some of Birchville Cat Motel’s work because I think he is one of the few artists that managed to combine field recordings and drone so well that a menacing pastoral ambience is created.  BCM also straddled other genres. I’m a huge fan of his black metal/psych records like Bird Sister Blasphemy  and Astro Catastrophes but I think he did his finest work when he embraced the drone. Maybe With Maples Ablaze is my favourite record of his entire catalogue. I found this heavily discounted at my local record store a fortnight ago and I nearly wept when I found it.

Over its 10 untitled tracks Kneale creates extraordinary palettes of field recordings and drone.  With Maples Ablaze often sounds somewhere between KTL, Menche and ambient Kevin Drumm. It is superb and like just about everything BCM released now out of print. This record has inspired me to reconnect with the ten or so records of his that I own. There are some great records you need to track down but if the only thing you can find easily is Seventh Ruined Hex put your hand in your pocket. When I reviewed it a few years ago I was dismissive of it. I was wrong. As an aside – I don’t advocate this often but if you find a sneaky download of With Maples Ablaze start clicking. An important work from a band that shouldn’t be forgotten.

Yellow Swans – Bring The Neon War Home (Narnuck) 2005

Posted in Drone, Music, noise, yellow swans with tags , , , on February 10, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

I miss Yellow Swans. Their last two albums were some of the finest noise/experimental/drone/whatever records you’ll ever hope to hear. They were particularly stunning in their ability to move from their more noisier incarnation to some truly beautiful sound moments. They were my favourite “noise” band. I suppose part of that bias is that the Yellow Swans were one of the first noise bands that I’d heard and when I began  my explorations of tuneless music, those Live During War Crimes records on Sweden’s Release the Bats were my soundtrack.

For those of us who are into the band the releases of Yellow Swans fall into two broad categories: The proper albums like At All Ends and Going PLaces and the albums where they became D.Yellow Swans (Dreamer, Drowned, Dove, Drift, Descension). Yet, stylistically, whether I listen to the “D” records or their proper releases, the progression of the Yellow Swans sound is quite linear.

Take their proper release from 2005, Bring The Neon War Home. I’ve been meaning to get this for the past four years and it was only last week that I saw it sitting in my local indie rip-off store. On this record the band sound like they are having a crap load of fun. In some ways it reminds me of a classier, noisier, more fully realised version of Hospital’s Hairdryer Peace. That comaprison comes not only from the scope of the ideas that each record contains but also the heavy use of dub underneath all the squall. The use of electronica and are I say it, minimalist techno beats under the soaring and quite majestic noise rock, makes me think of Black Dice but that said Bring The Neon War Home is a much more “together” affair. In the final track the beats are abandoned and instead we get a sign post of the calm, yet noisy beauty which would mark their later work.

It is an excellent record. It gives me  the same buzz I got from heating Burning Star Core’s Challenger for the first time.

Kevin Drumm – Comedy (Moikai) 2000

Posted in Drone, Kevin Drumm, Music with tags , , on January 30, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

There were some great records that came out last year. The one that has stayed with me the most was the mighty Necro Acoustic which I think stands as a staggering record. Necro Acoustic was one of those records that had me wanting to explore the entirety of an artist’s back catalogue. For any noise/drone artist that is an impossible task given the number of small release CD-r’s and cassettes that are usually feature of their work and with Drumm there are some horribly rare records that I will never hear. Luckily, although there is fuck all of his records in print (some collaborations with Menche and Prurient, the stuff on Hospital, Sheer Hellish Miasma and the last year’s re-releases of his first two), a fair few of his records are easy to track down. Probably the easiest is Comedy. You can pick it up for a couple of bucks from Amazon. The question I suppose is that is there a point trying to get it? On balance I think there is. There are two shorter versions of Organ, the track that made its first appearance in full on Necro Acoustic) which are both great and are essentially a sophisticated drone call and response. There are two short pieces under three minutes which are both great and the fourth track Just Like a Parvenu is also fantastic. The only downside is the third track To The Ending. It would be easy to make a corny joke about the title considering that I haven’t met a track as boring since the crap that featured on Birchville Cat Motel’s Seventh Buried Hex. I actually couldn’t wait for it to end. I suppose it is successful in that sense. It made me tense and a bit agitated but with the rest of the album being so damn good it just sticks out like a sore thumb. Comedy is closer to his drone based works rather than the much harsher noise based Sheer Hellish Miasma and Land of Lurches. I think it’s essentially an album full of great tracks it is just not uniformly brilliant. Worth a listen.

Daniel Menche – Terre Paroxysm (Utech) 2010

Posted in Daniel Menche, Drone, Merzbow, Music with tags , , , on January 8, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

Terre means Earth inFrench and a Paroxysm is a violent outburst. The name makes a lot of sense when you hear this new set of processed field recordings.

I’ve spent a fair bit of the year listening to Menche. The percussive explorations of the past few years have given way to recordings such as the almighty Kataract that capture the violence of nature in extreme drone recordings. Terre Paroxysm is a follow on from that work and a very different beast to Ordardek. What Menche does on Terre Paroxysm is record storms and other violent weather events which happened at his home in Oregon. He then processes the sounds to create a drone laden set of field recordings which somehow create a creeping tension whilst the primary sounds are still recognisable. Never before have I heard water drips, sleet hitting windows and torrential downpours sound just so damn evil,. I love this sort of stuff and he was good enough to include the Blood of the Land mini Cd when I ordered this from him which is just as good. If you only buy one Menche record from 2010 you won’t go far wrong with this one.

Kyle Bobby Dunn – A Young Person’s Guide To Kyle Bobby Dunn (Low Point) 2010

Posted in Ambient, Drone, Kyle Bobby Dunn, Music with tags , , , on October 12, 2010 by noisenoisenoise

Once I immersed myself in the concept of noise and drone and I started listening to as much of it as I possibly could, I realised that there a an absolute plethora of subsets within the two genres. I mean, when I started getting in to this sort of stuff the idea that there would  be different sorts of noise and a kaleidoscope of different drone records  would have seemed a nonsense. The fact is that drone travels all of the way from the  minimalist early records of Kevin Drumm, branches off in to near ambient territory and at the extreme end sometimes intersects with noise (Lasse Marhaug) to create an incessant maelveolence. This record by Kyle Bobby Dunn of 12 long tracks over two discs travels in the “almost ambient realm” of drone. It’s like a cross between Brian Eno’s Music for Airports and Birchville Cat Motel with a Stars of the Lid vibe. Kyle Dunn is a composer and sound artist based in New York. He uses conventional instruments before processing him into these quite beautiful, epic pieces. This is the sound of peace and serenity. Ambient may be a dirty word in the noise/drone/experimental community but records like this prove that it shouldn’t be.

Burning Star Core – Inside the Shadow (Hospital) 2010

Posted in Burning Star Core, Drone, Music, noise with tags , , , on September 10, 2010 by noisenoisenoise

For me, this is an almost perfect record. Originally released in 2005 as a limited edition CD-R , Hospital Records have had the good sense to re-release it to a wider audience. C.Spencer Yeh is part of my holy trinity of amazing drone artists (Kevin Drumm and Daniel Menche make up the three) and this is another extraordinary example of his craft. It is probably a little easier to get into than this years “proper release” Papercuts Theatre, but it is just as gobsmackingly fantastic. There are three tracks in all. The first Inside the Shadow (w Metals) is a drone track which is never allowed to become truly transcendent through the addition of  a steady stream of restrained clanging, clinking and tinkling of various objects through out its 15 minutes. The second track Now United showcases Yeh at his best – a processed violin, that when not descending into chaos, comes across as some elegiac, celtic jig. It is one of my favourite Burning Star Core tracks. Things are rounded off with the final track Inside the Shadow which is a much more straight forward drone track that switches between tones before creeping into sorrowful and at times more threatening territory as extra layers are added. It’s a little anti-climatic compared with the first two tracks but is still a great example of the emotional impact great drone can have on the listener. I know its five years old but it is still one of the records of the year

Sunroof! – Silver Bear Mist (VHF) 2005

Posted in Drone, Music, noise, Sunroof!, Vibracathedral Orchestra with tags , , , , , on July 25, 2010 by noisenoisenoise

In the past few weeks I’ve come back to the improv free drone/noise/rock/whatever of Matthew Bowers other “other” band. In the ten years they’ve been producing records they manage to get a proper release out every two years or so. Panzer Division Lou Reed was reviewed here some time ago but it’s only now that I’ve decided to explore further. Their first record Delicate Autobahn Under Construction is hard to get a handle on and I’ll leave that one for another time. But this double CD from 2005 is tremendously accessible. Thinks of of a freak take on psychedelic krautrock and you’ll have yourself a firm starting point.

A lot of these improv, free, noise bands rarely get their shit together and as a listener you have to wonder whether we’re all being hoodwinked by what is in essence aural, narcissistic wankery (I’m looking at you No Neck Blues Band) – I know these records must have been fun to make but I mean seriously, they suck to listen to. I suppose this why Silver Bear Mist has struck such a chord with me. It is a seriously mental, fun listen. And at the end of the day isn’t that what music is about – enjoyment. I can enjoy challenging experiences, I enjoy having my brain scrubbed clean by Lasse Marhaug, I enjoy exquisite drone by Daniel Menche, and for the last few weeks I’ve been having a blast with Sunroof! – if it ain’t fun to listen to it ain’t worth shit.

Nadja – Touched (Alien 8 Records) 2007

Posted in Doom, Drone with tags , , , on July 25, 2010 by noisenoisenoise

Nadja are a duo of Aiden Baker and Leah Buckereff. This version of Touched is a re-recording of their debut CD with an untitled track as an added extra. I haven’t really dabbled with Nadja too much because, well have a look at their Discogs page, they’re more prolific than Merzbow. Nadja’s is a sound I return to from time to time – a compelling intersection of doom metal, post rock, drone and dark ambience. It’s like Sunn O))) and Mogwai jammed over some heroin and decided to record the output. This is a big sound,  which is unsurprising given that it was mastered by Khanates James Plotkin. When I play it I really enjoy it and doom is  really the only metal I can listen to without laughing. If you love that sound then this is a great example of it.

Gate – Republic of Sadness (Ba Da Bing) 2010

Posted in Drone, Gate, Music, The Dead C with tags , , , , , on July 20, 2010 by noisenoisenoise

From the outset I should tell you that Gate is the side project of one Michael Morley who you may know from his other band, The Dead C. This is being released in a week or so on vinyl by the always excellent Ba Da Bing records. I managed to snag a review copy a couple of weeks ago and well let me put it this way; what would you expect from a record by a bloke from the Dead C. Some avant garde, lo fi, rock experimentation perhaps? Well so did I. This is the first time I’ve heard a Gate record and what I wasn’t fucking expecting is an album of downbeat, popish electronica. The first time I played this I was walking around my neighbourhood late at night. When the music  started, it took me by surprise so much that I checked my ipod to see that I hadn’t inadvertently started some Hot Chip record or something. Seriously. There are some genuinely funky beats in here especially on the third track Desert which had some major f.u.n.k. going on and the final track Trees which sounds like that overtly sentimental, continental techno so beloved by Germans. But you know its Michael Morley because that voice weaves in and out of the tracks like a confused dementia patient on codeine and jam. The lyrics, when I was able to pick them out, bring a melancholic edge to the whole thing. It’s hard to shake you ass when Morley sings about being unable to stop war and something about corruption.

So how am I really supposed to take this? Is it some post modern examination of the shallowness of body music or is it a record by a genuine fan of pop and beat looking for an outlet? In the end I don’t think it matters because I enjoyed this so much I’m worried by noise cred might be at an end. Republic of Sadness is all loops, pop, beats, a smattering of drone and that voice. It’s the most depressing time you’ll ever have shaking your ass.

Rosy Parlane – Jessamine (Touch) 2006

Posted in Drone, Music, New Zealand Bands with tags , , , on June 14, 2010 by noisenoisenoise

Last year I saw New Zealand’s Rosy Parlane play at the Open Frame Night at the Brisbane Powerhouse. For thirty  minutes his beautiful, elegiac, organic, ambient drone washed across the space which, as an aside, was a nice break from the previous act, Ilios, who tried to suck all the oxygen out of the room with his nasty oscillations. But like many things  as fragile and lovely as Parlane’s music, it took me a while to fully absorb just how great his music is. Jessamine is the most recent CD Parlane has released. He is much like many of the other Touch artists , say Fennesz and Oren Ambarchi, not exactly prolific. What you do get, like his label mates, is an extraordinary quality. Jessamine is a record that I keep coming back to. He may have fallen under your radar and that would be a shame. As good as Kevin Drumm’s Imperial Horizon. No shit.

Yellow Swans with John Wiese – Portable Dunes (Helicopter) 2009

Posted in Drone, John Wiese, Music, noise, yellow swans with tags , , , , on June 4, 2010 by noisenoisenoise

As each new Yellow Swans record has been released the band has drifted away from their extreme noise roots to embrace the more avant garde end of drone. Their recent career closer, Going Places, is a testament to just how good the band became in riding the whole beauty/nasty axis. This collaboration between two giants of noise, was released by Wiese’s Helicopter label last year. There are enough other reviews out there is you want a blow by blow description of the tracks (the first one is noisy, the second droney with silence etc) but my overwhelming impression  with this record is one of extreme sadness. The thing I never expected about noise when I first started listening a few years ago is the depth of emotion that some of these records contain. A record label blurb described Yellow Swans Live During War Crimes  as 42 black minutes of creepy soundscapes painting a depressive picture of a world going down in dust and ashes. Portable Dunes is what remains after the dust settles. Essential.

Daniel Menche – Odradek (Beta-lactum Ring) 2009

Posted in Daniel Menche, Drone, Music, noise with tags , , , on May 17, 2010 by noisenoisenoise

There is something in Menche’s version of drone that sets it apart from many of his contemporaries.  On the surface the noise is a simply layer beast of low-end rumble and high-pitched distortion which somehow propels itself forward over the length of a track. The problem with a lot of drone is that if listened too passively the reason for the movement in the sound can be missed. On the first of two lengthy untitled tracks which make up Odradek the hidden something which makes it all work is processed percussion.  The track starts ominously enough with a an occasional jarring thud which sounds like a piano being punched but after those few distractions the track gains some momentum before half way through revealing its full percussive colours. It’s actually very clever because I think he is one of the few noise artists that can incorporate percussion into a layered drone and almost completely hide it. Despite all the different elements which combined to the first track, it is bleak as hell and is almost an aural representation of Menche’s black and white photography of Oregon’s wilderness.

The second track is really strange. It begins with the reading of a poem (in German) of the mythical creature which the album is named after. It’s all a bit KTL like in many ways. The spoken word component doesn’t last long and in typical Menche style lies under some effects (in this case some  chiming gong and distorted thuds). After the poem recedes into memory the track doesn’t immediately reveal itself as a drone track. It’s almost sounds like   an orchestra of wind chimes. The most remarkable thing about the track as it slowly moves and shift is that it is one of Menche’s few musical expressions of hope and genuine emotion. A startling leap froward for Menche and a remarkable record. It will take you a few listens to get the full effect but give it time and let it blow you away.

Burning Star Core – Papercuts Theater (No Quarter) 2010

Posted in Burning Star Core, Drone, Music with tags , , on May 15, 2010 by noisenoisenoise

C. Spencer Yeh is back with his all mighty psych/drone/noise vehicle Burning Star Core. On his latest “proper” record he sifts through recordings of 60 concerts from the band that span continents and years to come up with one large piece of music which he helpfully splits into four parts.  It is everything that I could want from a Burning Star Core record and more. It somehow straddles psychedelic krautrock, with exquisite drone, free improv spazzfests and full-on noise assaults. It’s in some ways like distilling my whole record collection into 60 minutes of aural pleasure. At times the music takes off like late-Boredoms on a mushroom binge before morphing into PITA-esque brooding drone. Yet for all it’s variety If I hadn’t read the press release I wouldn’t have know that this is ultimately a meticulously put together sound collage of everything that is good in experimental music and noise right now. It’s challenging, exciting and awesome. It’s even better than Challenger and may have tipped Yellow Swans for album of the year.

Mike Shiflet & Daniel Menche – Stalemate (Sonoris) 2009

Posted in Daniel Menche, Drone, Music, noise with tags , , , , on May 6, 2010 by noisenoisenoise

I know this sounds so depressingly nerdy but one of the  happier moments I had last year was finding out that Daniel Menche was releasing records again. As a return, Kataract was simply extraordinary and if you still haven’t tracked that down then I advise you to hurry up. I also bought Odradek which I’ll post on later. Some of the best noise/drone records you’ll hear are when two artists get together to form a new collaboration. I’ve never heard of Mike Shiflet before but know Menche pretty well. Stalemate snuck out at the end of 2009 from the French Sonoris label. Like most records in this genre there are few clues at to how the noise is made or processed. On the sleeve of the disc, by the artists names, it lists Hammond Organ and Electronics. Like Bleeding Heavens and its alleged processed trumpets, best of luck finding anything here that resembles an organ. It’s really a bit mad. For Menche fans the three tracks are slow paced pieces of cracking and distorted drone which change and move microscopically. It’s all rather good and worth checking out.

Ben Frost – By The Throat (Bedroom Community) 2009

Posted in Ben Frost, Drone, Music, noise, Uncategorized with tags , , , on May 6, 2010 by noisenoisenoise

“The difficult third album has been replaced with the undifferentiated 14th CD-R. What happened to the thrill of the new? Hearing something you never conceived might exist and knowing it’s exactly what you always needed to hear.”

I love this bit of writing by Nick Southgate in the Wire because it neatly sums up how I often feel. The thing about continuing this blog and trying new things and expanding musical and sound horizons is that ever now and then I hit absolute fucking gold. A record that worked like a sonic ear syringe. In fact one of the best releases in the last couple of years. It’s a droning, post rock, field recording, distortion,noise fest. Equally terrifying and beautiful. Just listen to these two clips and tell me I’m wrong.

Birchville Cat Motel & Yellow Swans (Important) 2006

Posted in Birchville Cat Motel, noise, yellow swans with tags , , , , on March 30, 2010 by noisenoisenoise

(If you think you’ve read this before it is probably because you have. This is a review I did in 2006 that was combined with BCM’s Chi Vampires – I hate my review for that record so decided to have another go and post them separately)

I don’t know what it is, but once Yellow Swans decide to team up with other noise artists the results are certainly a mixed bag. I recently came into possession of their outing with The Cherry Point, Live at Camp Blood. Now that is the most horrendous thing I’ve heard in quite a while. There is no light just an unrelenting maw of the most extreme noise. It’s a sadistic slice of ear-buggery.

Likewise there is little light in their outing with BCM. It consists of two tracks which were recorded during Yellow Swans tour of New Zealand. Terminal Saints clocks in at over 27 minutes and starts promising enough. An incessant mid- frequency throb gets proceedings underway. Found sounds are added as the tension slowly builds and then …. nothing. This is pure BCM in many ways. The track does not build to a crescendo. It merely exists. Perhaps the point is the tension. The electronic throb stays constant but the intensity of the track slowly builds as layer upon layer is added, before each new noise is thrown aside for the next. When it seems the track will collapse under its own weight, it teeters on the edge before retreating  and continues …. incessantly. There is no relief. There is only noise.

The second track is Marble Carcass which comes in at a sprightly 22 minutes. This track is a very different beast from the first. At times it is an extreme ugly chaotic mess but at least there is relief. The noise does what is supposed to do. It cannibalises itself in a self indulgent, aural orgy of bastardry.

In the end the collaboration works but it never trumps their individual output.

Chris Rehm – Salivary Stones (Chinquapin Records) 2010

Posted in Chris Rehm, Drone, noise with tags , , , on March 29, 2010 by noisenoisenoise

Chris Rehms is a musician from currently based in New Orleans (originally from Texas) who has created one  of my favourite records this year. The tracks themselves are single track songs on which effects are later added. It’s a short release of only six tracks but for lovers of bands like Yellow Swans it’s worth tracking down. I have this overwelming urge to label it hypnagogic drone because the predominant impression is one of maximalist drone where the tone splits at the seems to created a distorted but oddly lovely sound. A minimalist maximalism if you will (or should  that be a maximalism minimalism).  In fact the spirit of minimalists like Tim Hecker are here and in the vein of Hecker there is music here. Quite lovely, moving music. If you like your drone to have an emotional core then Salivary Stones may be just your thing.

Yellow Swans – Going Places (Type) 2010

Posted in Music, noise, yellow swans with tags , , , on March 29, 2010 by noisenoisenoise

Yellow Swans split  up some time ago yet there have been a cascade of new release over the last couple of years. My geeky fandom for this band is well documented on this site. I love this band but I assure you that I can be objective. Going Places is the best thing they have ever done.  In fact Yellow Swans were one of those bands that just got better and better with each new release. I love my noise and if you listen to those early Yellow Swans records, they certainly were a noise band but they slowly morphed into something which used toned down noise elements and instruments to create colour in what could have been standard drone. Going Places is extraordinary, a treat for noise and drone nerds everywhere. The most extraordinary track on an extraordinary record is Opt Out. This is drone and noise-ambience on an epic scale. Layer open layer of bubbling fuzz, drone and hiss provides a foundation for ethereal ambience and strings to float over  a core of hostile noise which at times attempts to breakout but is never actually released.  Maybe Yellow Swans have posthumously created a new genre of “post-noise”?

I’m calling it now – If this isn’t album of the year in December  I’ll burn those old copies of The Wire in protest.

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