Posts Tagged ‘drone’

The Telescopes – Violence

November 9, 2017

Where the fuck would this song fit in if it were released today?

Chooooooooon as my 4 year old would say (though maybe not about this, he prefers Pet Shop Boys and Uptown Funk. He’s got fucking great taste but this one might take him a few more years.)

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Sunn O))) and Earth, Spacemen 3, The Telescopes, Tony Conrad and Nadja & Black Boned Angel, Drone

October 21, 2017

 

Post inspired by Stefan Derscariu of the mighty MIGHTY Who Saw The Light.

The first time I heard drone was probably Spacemen 3, who over the years have turned into my favourite / joint favourite band of all time.  They’re not a drone band, but most of their music is simple and repetitive, some has huge drone elements and some of their work – especially off-shoot projects – is pure drone.

If you don’t know their work go check out every last thing they’ve done.

If you’re in a psychedelic band what’s the obvious thing to do?  Go play live without your drummer in the foyer of an Arts Centre in Brentford, whilst people are queuing to see a film, and record it and release it as a 45 minute one-track album called “An Evening of Contempory Sitar Music” (even though there are no sitars).  Or bass… well worth reading “Playing the bass with three left hands” by Will Carruthers, former S3 bassist, for more on why there’s no bass on it.

Why is it great?  For me a pure drone can be pretty tedious… I prefer throbby drones, more texture… and then you’ve got Jason Pierce (now Spiritualized) improvising around some of the riffs from Spacemen 3 tracks. Proper chilled, late night drift of to sleep music.

And to prive that they can drone hard, this is the sound of someone bleeding to death after cutting their wrists in a warm bath (according to them) –

It would be remiss of me not to mention Sonic Boom’s later work… Experimental Audio research (EAR), Spectrum, under his own name –

Coincidentally – cos I’m not some drone freak – my other favourite band of all time, The Telescopes can be drone at times.  Which lead to Stefan mentioning Nadja & Black Boned Angel collaberation.

They have a purity to their drone, and I like it.  And there’s a texture I like.  I’m not sure the metal elements blow me away.  Basically I like.  But there’s a part I don’t… I don’t like that it reminds me of religion, and christianity in particular, the religion shoved down my reluctant throat through my childhood, the religion that I am compelled to avoid at all possible times in all possible ways forever more as a result.  It reminds me of church and hymns.  Not enough to ruin it for me, but enough to put me off.  I should probably point out here that the link on youtube does make the influence / theme clear –

But it got me thinking.  I have always had a contradiction going on re: Spacemen 3.  Many of their songs use gospel influences and lyrics that blends the three great spiritual highs – religion, love and drugs.

No drone but drone is a massive influence.  But I think I worked it out, thanks to Nadja & Black Boned Angel.  I’ve always realised that part of it is simply I love the music of Spacemen 3 so can overlook the religious words; I’ve always seen the words as both the heartfelt lament of a sinner whilst also being blasphemous in their wilful rejection of a righteous path and embrace of hard drugs instead.  But the main thing is their religion is an American christianity of hill country blues, gospel.  It is black.  It is not the white middle-class borefest CoE shit I had to put up with, it’s not the christianity that pissed me right off then and still pisses me off now when I think of it’s fucking arrogance that it thought it had any right to be in my life with it’s fucking BS.

Sonic Boom playing Walking With Jesus live in 2001 with his band Spectrum.  OK, so he can’t sing to save his life, and there is literally nothing to the song, but how good is this –

We’re not as drone as I wanna be.  That’s basically psychedelic pop as far as I’m concerned.  But it has a drone and coke can opening genius.

Back to Earth.  Earth were one of the first drone bands I ever heard.  Earth 2: Special Low Frequency Version.  I live the drone, but this is great cos it’s heavy as drone with killer riffs.

Sunn O))) are not a band I know very well… but why the hell should that stop me mouthing off?  EVERYONE loves Sunn O))) apart from me.  Am I just being wilfully obtuse or is it summat else?  It’s this.  They’re heavy drone, just like Earth at their best, only without the riffs.  Or am I listening to the wrong albums?  Or is it just I’ve never seen them live, and that is where the insane backline wall of sound truly comes alive?  Or do I just not really like drone, just some stuff with heavy drone elements?

Probably the coolest drone show I’ve ever been to was this.  Early 1990s, can’t remember how I heard about it, went alone.  It was in an upstairs room in an old Victorian warehouse near Old Street in East London.  I can’t think that there were more than 20 or 30 of us there.  Tony Conrad was formerly part of theTheatre of Eternal Music with La Monte Young.

He played maybe something like this (I actually recorded it on a cassette – still got it somewhere) –

Cody Noon, For Astronauts and Satellites, Aching Muscle and Sleepwalker at the Star Inn, Guildford 27th August 2017

August 28, 2017

Trial ‘n’ Error join forces once more with the Buffalo Club for a night that could best be described as experimental and eclectic.  Four acts with arguably next-to-nothing in common, certainly not superficially, other than three do not feature live drums and if you were to turn up for some rock, punk, indie then you’d be left disappointed.

Sometimes I go to gigs and just don’t much get into it, for no real reason I can put my finger on… other times I just get into it from start to finish and even when it’s not 100% my thing.

Up first, Sleepwalker.  Stef takes off his promoter’s hat and puts on one that I’d mark ambient minimal techno.  He stands in front of the stage and twiddles knobs on the assortment of kit – mixer, laptop, keyboard and some other shit – in front of him.  I missed the start of the set, but really loved what I did catch, which I think was most of it.  Of all the electronica / dance music out there this is pretty damn close to what I like most.  Quite a pure, warm sound.  Simple, funky, energetic… with ambient sweeps.  To my mind this is dance music for a bar / club that is equally effective as head music.  Really takes me back to 1997 / 98 when I was hanging out in little bars in central London on a Friday night, necking lagers and listening to electro-influenced tech-house.  Honestly, I have no criticism other than the Back Room of the Star is not the ideal setting.

Next up, Richard Fenning’s in his Aching Muscle guise.  An eclectic mix of electronic backing tracks, overlayed with live and looped guitar.  By turns fun, heavy, playful, funky, futuristic, lounge, rocking.  The playing can be relatively orthodox, but when it is it usually gives off a sense that it is being played exactly as intended – technically perfect.  Then he veers off in off-key, off-kilter, off-the-wall, off-ensive (not really), jazzy, mathy, experimentally directions that can sound quite random but I’m sure are just as precisely crafted as that which is more orthodox.

I’ve kinda got two criticisms.  A full live band can put out more power and volume, and, of course, gives you more to look at (not that Fennings doesn’t know how to work a stage).  The sound at the Star is really good – loud and faithful – but it’d be interesting to see how different, louder and more all-encompassing and powerful Aching Muscle would sound as a full band.  Failing that, in an ideal world, and this is asking a lot, he’d turn up with three half-stacks and route loops through one, drums and bass another and live guitar a third.  PA’s are fucking great but they compliment a back-line and can never truly replace one.

The second is this.  Music is never just about the music; to really love it you have to have a complete package to buy into.  Fenning’s other band – Pensevor, where he drums – are a perfect example.  They look like a proper band, down in no small part to their man-mountain front-man but not exclusively, and they have a sound that has nods to all sorts of things but is resolutely their own.  Get on stage by yourself and it’s a fuck-load harder to come across like a proper band, partly because you’re not, of course.  Nothing wrong with a solo act, nothing at all, but it’s just so much harder to come across like you’re on your way to a big stage, and so much easier to come across like you’ve just been let loose from your bedroom.  It’s about perception as much as reality, but it’s just harder to make it sound big and authentic (don’t get me started on authenticity in music, but just quickly, authenticity is bullshit, but people’s perception of it makes a massive difference to how a band is received.)

Third up For Astronauts and Satellites… pretty sure I’ve seen them before, but if I did I didn’t much enjoy them and don’t much remember them.  Dunno what was different this time – probably my attitude not them – but I really enjoyed it.  Shoegaze-influenced post-rock, combining electronics with two guitars; it was the drums that really did it for me.  Bugger.  I noodle at home with a sequencer, but yet another band proves exactly why a relatively traditional live band is so powerful, even 50 years or so since the first all-electronic acts, and despite the fact that so much of the last 30 or 40 years the more cutting-edge music relies increasingly on techniques other than live performance.

Really funky guitar noise.

Finally Cody Noon.  Kinda the missing link between Sleepwalker and For Astronauts, again funky, minimal programmed drums, again guitars, and the only live bass of the night.  Technically I am far from convinced by Cody Noon’s talent, none of Aching Muscle’s effortlessness… but for (1) I’m probably selling them short, and for (2) I really do not give a fuck.  If talent in and music out bore any real direct correlation then Eric Fucking Clapton would make music that could be described as “listenable” or “not horrific” or “unlikely to invoke murderous thoughts in the listener”.  I can’t really describe them… beer blamed, or maybe it’s just cos there’s absolutely nothing to what they do… repetitive, simple… but I really liked it and maybe even my favourites of the night.  In fact, not maybe, they definitely were.  Anything that drones is fine by me, but much more so when it is the drone of repetition as opposed to the drone of a continuous note.

Really looking forward to checking out recorded music from all of them, not least the three whose CDs I walked out with.  Keep and eye, I might even write about them in the next few weeks.  Expect me to come away with completely different perceptions from those I took away last night.

https://codynoon.bandcamp.com/

https://forastronauts.bandcamp.com/

https://soundcloud.com/aching-muscle

https://www.facebook.com/The-Sleepwalker-1700078336900454/

https://www.facebook.com/thebuffaloclub/

https://www.facebook.com/Trial-N-Error-Productions-1511711255801880/

Current Top Four

July 22, 2017

I did a Top 10 local bands a while back. I have an updated top 4, best-of-the-rest better follow.

Three of them are playing tomorrow (not all together).

Guildford and surrounds we have, in alphabetical order –

Moper – didn’t much like them when I first heard them but they’re just getting better and better with each release. Depressing, simple, noise rock, often not that heavy, but it just works, probably because they have some amazing songs and a vocalist / lyricist (and guitarist) who sorta of reminds me of Andrew Falcous.

https://mopernoise.bandcamp.com/

Pensevor – dirty, droning, did I say dirty, raw, filthy, doom. Surprisingly delicate, interesting, fantastic drumming, steady bass that just does the job, one of the most imposing and vulnerably aggressive front men you will ever see… and the icing on the cake, some of the filtiest and heaviest guitars you will ever hear with tone to die for. Damn near perfect.

https://pensevor432.bandcamp.com/

Tuskar – sludge, doom, stoner heavy-as guitar-drums two piece. Tyler is an animal on drums whilst covering vocals. Riffs applenty, verges on metal in places. In a good way.

https://tuskar.bandcamp.com/

Who Saw The Light – heavy, nuts. Not many bands can claim doom as the main vocal style whilst having music that encompasses prog, shoegaze (occasionally), metal, hardcore punk, math, pretty much everything. First ep out tomorrow.

https://www.facebook.com/whosawthelight/