It’s hard to keep up with various artists and labels release schedules, but the benefit of a digital world is that nothing is ever truly sold out (obviously physical editions come and go) and this somewhat ‘forever’ factor mears music can be taken in as new without the hindrance of a release date to hold it back. The Indiana based Past Inside The Present label (aka pitp) has an extremely intense release schedule which has me for the time being, skipping over a bunch of releases and focusing on some of their most recent vinyl releases.
“These two arrangements from Omaha, Nebraska’s Erinome are at once immersive and vaporous. The tracks on “Low Priest” embody an organic intensity that envelope the listener, allowing them to get lost in the wall of sounds. Multiple layers of manipulated field recordings and guitar work flawlessly converge, producing thirty minutes of all encompassing, angelic drone.“
The second release on the label from Erinome (1631 Recordings, Neologist, Basic Sounds, Vent Sounds) following on from the “A Burning Down I & II” single, sees Aaron Ross Hansen enbrace the Wall of Sound, amplifying and filling the listener with a colourful cascade of sound. Split into two sides the album naturally opens with “Low Priest I” which appears to fuse field recordings, chimes and waves of oscillating drones, some of which throb while others spit and scatter. The music has a swelling feeling as it rises and falls, bringing intensity and depth while also threatening to either divulge into noise or just collapse under the weight of it all. The press release makes mention of angelic drones which you glimpse at the base of the track. A note should be made that while there is a wall of sound feel, the mastering of Rafael Anton Irisarri allows for a separation of sound which reveals all the filigree and textures and stops it from being just one mass of noise.
With “Low Priest II” Hansen opens up with a building light filled collection of tight drones that seemingly flow on almost forever before looping. A darker texture separates the layers adding a slight foreboding feel and also acting as a conduit for further elements to join in. It would be quite easy for Hansen to double up on what has been served up before, but while this track has sonic similarities to the it’s namesake, this piece has more of a balance between the wall of sound and layering, resulting in a depth of sound that allows for space for sounds to co-exist independently of each other. Just what the title is a direct reference to I am not sure of, but what the music represents is an aggressive and m oody feeling and gives the music this feeling of pent up emotions being released.
“Low Priest” is an album about intensity, volume and dense sound. It’s about sharing darkness with light and showing layers of sound to either engulf or entrance the listener. “Low Priest” is available on transparent cyan or black vinyl and Digital.
“‘RÁS’ is derived from a Faroese word, which roughly translates to “a strong current in a narrow passage which links two seas”, mirroring the outcome of Thomas’ & Helsen’s independent arrangements, cultivating a strong bond or link between their compositions.”
“RÁS” shares sides from Wayne Robert Thomas and Isaac Helsen. Both Thomas and Helsen were involved in the recording of Kyle Bobby Dunn ‘s “From Here To Eternity” as well as Thomas releasing a split album with him on Wiltered Sepulchre records. Thomas comes from Indiana while Helsen is from Michigan. On this album they have similar styles, but contrasting sounds.
Thomas’ two pieces “Cactus in Memoriam Mark David Hollis” and “A Grey Morning, Later Lovely Sunshine” have stories behind their origin. The first piece is a tribute to the late Talk Talk front man who Influenced thousands of musicians largely over the “Spirit of Eden” “Laughing Stock” and self titled albums. With “In Memoriam…” Thomas focuses on the minimal aspect of Hollis’ later works which explored silence. Long flowing drones that balance melody with a slightly darker edge flow and roll over each other creating a piece that is meditative and transports the listener to a different space and time.
“A Grey Morning, Later Lovely Sunshine” was apparently said by a member of the Russian Royal family on the same day they were to be executed. Thomas takes the reference and applies it to personal circumstances and his own sense of loss. The piece naturally had a hint of moroseness to it with its drones being glacial in nature and with a certain weight about them. You usually can differentiate between hope filled drone and one that’s more connected to darker emotions. Usually it’s the length and the tone of the drone that gives it away. The long linear drone with melody clearly hint at happier times. This slower, shorter and darker dronage clearly refers to a time where the emotions of the person are fraught, but without them bring overwhelming and hopeless. You can hear the pain and emotional hurt, but also the introspective nature and how it is internalized. Just prior to the end the tone changes ever so slightly which begs the question “Had everything been dealt with” or “Is there a little light at the end of the tunnel?”. We may never know.
Of his piece “In Which We Hold Our Breath To Gather Light” Isaac Helsen states: “It is often only in hindsight that we are able to fully conceive the spaces we have traversed, notably in those metamorphic shifts of the mind. In looking back, our vision widens and clarifies; the darkness—once so intrusive and internal—is recast. Held against the light, its burden lifts and takes a different shape. The melancholy remains but is buoyed by a new hopefulness, a landscape unfolding, a bright contentment with what is and has been.”. Following on from Five of the Eight in total volumes of his “Remnants” series thus far released, a series in which Helsen has shone a light on his own mental health struggles and with a text and title like above, you get the feeling that this investigation into his own being is still a source of musical inspiration and theme for him to explore.
While Thomas’ music pondered loss, Helsen’s piece in direct comparison has a darker tone to it. A swirl of sounds and drones that both hang and extend out form the basis of much of its structure. While previously I brought up drone lengths as an indicator of feeling in a piece, I will now add tone into the mix. The drones here are long, but it’s the tone of them which when paired with the strings accentuates the feelings. With a topic like loss that Thomas explored, the pain while intense can also be short as loss is not something that is a constant to be regularly lived with. In regards to depression or other mental helth issues, the black dog is always there from the moment you wake up til the time you go to sleep and that is the reason I think behind the long drones – they represent that constant feeling that mental health issues can leave you with. The final two or so minutes of the piece is largely solo repetitive piano which begs the question of whether a corner has been turned. The tone of the piano is not too stark or melancholic, but it’s introspective nature matches the rest of the piece.
Returning to the meaning of the title, “RÁS” and it’s reference to “a strong current in a narrow passage which links two seas” you can see the linkage. While mining a similar theme of loss, there is something that both joins and separates the pieces. Loss. In Thomas’ case it’s more physical or personal loss, while Helsen and his take on mental health, it is more an emotional loss. “RÁS” is available on limited Red vinyl, black vinyl and Digital.
Takahiro Yorifuji is better known as Hakobune, a name that translates to Ark. Since 2007 he has released a wealth of material on labels such as U- cover, Hibernate, Dronarivm, Hidden Vibes, Constellation Tatsu, Polar Seas Recordings, White Paddy Mountain and many more. If you were to highlight a handful of artists that have been central to the expansion and dedication to Drone based music, Yorifuji would be one of those which would be named.
This two track album sees him in fine form, over the course of thirty one minutes (once more expertly mastered by Rafael Anton Irisarri) Yorifuji shows the upstarts how it done. It’s kind of redundant to try and describe the pieces on the album. A track like “Slowing Expansion” largely maintains the elements of its track throughout as is it slowly rises and falls. As you listen you are comforted by a form of repetition that is never truly the same, but offers a familiarity that can be deceptive. The peaks and troughs are never so pronounced, but then the movements themselves are never so rigid. The tone of the piece is one that mixes in hopeful sounds with a sort of exultation. It has this balance that manages to change its mood throughout, never once really staying to long in a particular feeling (although around the seven minute mark Yorifuji really leans into the exultation side of things).
The title track naturally mines a feeling appropriate to it’s name. A wind swept sound that feels some what distant opens the piece before waves of drones that include airy ones roll through. Yorifuji allows for movements of cold near peace before the music swirls some more. The tone of the piece gives the impression of time, as if this is the soundtrack to a memory and also the feeling of something bittersweet. With a title like “The Last Of Our Time Together” you are not going to get a piece of music that is joyful (unless not seeing the person anymore is a joyful thing). What you do get is a piece that conjures up an emotion of sadness mixed a distance of time. This distance is best shown by the comparison in the vibrancy of the two pieces, with this piece sounding more affected and somewhat monotone compared to the much more colourful “Slow Expansion”.
With the album Hakobune shows how with a style of music that is quite limited in Drone, how to convey emotion and probably narrative quite easily when it is done really well. “The Last Of Our Time Together” is available on limited Transparent Smoke vinyl, black vinyl and Digital.