Dave Seidel – Prism, Mirror, Lens

Dave Seidel - Prism, Mirror, Lens

Several years ago, Phillip Wilkerson ran a little sound series he called Complex Silence. These works, most of which are available on Archive.org, allowed musicians the freedom to explore the intricasies and development of drones as a musical statement. What set Wilkerson’s series off from other curations of ambient and drone works was his inclusion of a simple word: complex. The Wikitionary states that complex derives from the Latin complexus which means “I entwine, encircle, compass, infold”. The best of these some 40 releases never attached themselves to the simple sound, no matter how plain these tracks may have sounded, there was always an inquiry into the tones.

Dave Seidel was one of the early participants in Wilkerson’s experiment. And it was as Mysterybear, Seidel’s earlier alias, that I became familiar with his music. While many have fled the drone scene (if there ever was one), Seidel has kept on exploring the depths of these sonic murmurs. Seidel’s latest release, Prism Mirror, Lens, continues his search in the dronal environment. Seidel writes that the first track is in a “setting of continual spectral change”. Yes, that’s it! Change is the key to Seidel’s work. Boredom is not a word that comes to mind when listening to Seidel’s work, it is craftsmanship. There is an attention to detail that permeates Seidel’s sounds as he builds them allowing the listener to experience the uncertainty buried in his dynamic drones. There is no sameness of Seidel’s tracks; his work is an examination not of drones, but where the drones take us.

Artist: Dave Seidel
Title: Prism, Mirror, Lens
Netlabel: Self-Released
Release Date: August 2015
License: CC BY-NC-SA
Download mp3: Bandcamp

Red Clouds – Weed Drone Haze

Red Clouds - Weed Drone Haze

Imagine a man, a giant of a man whose arms are the size of a typical man’s legs, his fists are the size of a small child’s head, his legs are as sturdy as telephone poles, his head is so large that objects get caught in its gravity. This is a big man and he is like no other. His saliva, rather his drool, has magical powers as used in the making of fantastic drones. I told you it was magical. This man walks around with a bucket, a drool bucket to capture these enchanted drones. Today this drone bucket has brought forth Red Clouds’ Weed Drone Haze on the netlabel Petroglyph Muisc.

I do not know if this giant man is indeed Red Clouds aka James Hoehl, he most likely is not. Could the drones on Weed Drone Haze come from this giant man’s drool? In all likelihood, yes.

“After Dawn They Appeared” opens Red Clouds’ Weed Drone Haze, the drones approach like the pre-dawn sun, creeping towards you, inevitable but still taking their time. Listening to Red Clouds’ second track, “At the End of Time”, for the first time is when I understood that Weed Drone Haze to be something greater than my anticipation. Sure, anyone can but together one wonderful drone track, but following it up with another track equal in its sound does not happen that often.

“Death Machine”, the longest track of the album coming in just over 16 minutes, deepens the drones as glitches are stretched out and other electronic sounds find their way from the background to foreground. Red Clouds’ “Death Macine” might be the most un-dronish track of the entire album, but if so, it is only by a slight margin.

“Fire Eyes” continues Red Clouds’ dominance over the drones. Maybe it is not so much dominance, maybe it is more of allowing the drones to flow through Red Clouds to the listener. Regardless, “Fire Eyes” is the penultimate track of Weed Drone Haze and I have not been disappointed yet. Nor will I be.

Red Clouds wraps up Weed Drone Haze with “In the Hidden Forest”. James Hoehl, from the Philadelphia area, has released several albums as Red Clouds at both Etched Traumas and Petroglyph Music, but Weed Drone Haze is his best work to date. The last track closes out one of the best drone albums you will hear this year.

Artist: Red Clouds
Title: Weed Drone Haze
Netlabel: Petroglyph Music
Release Date: June 2015
License: CC BY-NC-ND
Download mp3: zip

Liquid Sound

Liquid Sound

I don’t write too much about what most would call beautiful music; I am usually more concerned with the dissonant. Luckily Ted Laderas as The OO-Ray released Empty Orchestra on Lifelike Family which is both beautiful and oddly jarring. More on this later.

Both versions of the cassettes, which were released under Creative Commons licensing, sold out, so Laderas released the album for free on Free Music Archive. I still have the deluxe cassette version of Empty Orchestra untouched and I hadn’t listened to it until the FMA release. (Is it weird that I listen to cassette releases on cassette and not on the digital downloads that labels and artists provide?)

With Empty Orchestra, Laderas has build a thick sound that envelopes the listener. The drones are palpable and they seem to drip with strings and tones. The tracks of Empty Orchestra embrace composition and never shy away from being considered music. There has always been a predictability of ambient music that leans toward the boring, however Laderas eschews his music from the pedantic and anticipative hooks of the genre. It is as if liquid sound pours out of your headphones when listening to Empty Orchestra.

Artist: The OO-Ray
Title: Empty Orchestra
Label: Lifelike Family
License: CC BY-NC
Release Date: April 2015
Download mp3: zip

Amidst the Underground

Quadraphonic Automatische Drohne

We exist in the underground. We exist in the bits that travel through the world’s underbelly.  We are in the basement of the high-rises you walk by every day. There is a world of music architected by corporations on the talents of thousands. That is not our world. It is not Miquel Parera‘s world either. He is not unnoticed though he goes by not talked about, not recognized.  He would  rather listen to your new album than release a new track on Soundcloud. He would rather review your work than tweet about his new album. He is quietly community driven. With his latest album, Quadraphonic Automatische Drohne, Parera’s ears code an intricate work that brings forth new sonic phrases listen after listen.

Artist: Miquel Parera
Title: Quadraphonic Automatische Drohne
Netlabel: Self-released
Release Date: 08 July 2013
Download mp3: zip
CC BY-SA

Returning With Some Self-Promotion

As some of you may know, I have most recently begun a new job. I realized a few weeks into the new job, that even though I’ve been gainfully employed for a long time (knock on wood), I’ve been doing almost nothing for the last few years. So it was a shock to the system at my new job as I had to gratefully step it up a several notches. Things or, rather, my life have settled down again, work is going along great and I’ve finally carved out time to write reviews of new Creative Commons netlabel music. In the mean time, check out two releases of mine. Back in March, I released Home Drones on Treetrunk and in September, Backyard Improvisations came out on Vuzh Music. Please give them a listen if you’d like.

If you are unaware of The Easy Pace, it’s a feed of sorts of Creative Commons netlabel music that focuses on experimental, improvisation and noise releases.

Parklific: The Trombone Edition

Mystified - The Bone Drones Triology

It’s been over 8 months since I’ve written about any releases from Thomas Park aka Mystified aka Mister Vapor. Eight months. In dog years that comes out to 5 years, but in Thomas Park years, that’s 15 to 20. Park’s prolificness was actually discussed slightly in a Twitter conversation recently and as C. Reider wrote, “I don’t think Mystified has anything to worry about w/ prolific output, his stuff is consistently good to great.” Point and match. Seriously, does Park put out anything bad? He has an incredible ear and boat-loads of talent that even his “worst” stuff is far better than most people’s best. Here is just a sampling of some of the releases I’ve missed:

For Phillip K. Dick (Kalpamantra)
Concrete Mix (Eg0cide Productions)
Disintegration Ranch (Treetrunk Records) by Mystified & i AM esper
4:33 (4’33” music)
Return Of Plunderman (Webbed Hand Records)
Remembering The Engine (Self-released)
Industrial Dervish Drone (DomaData)
Warped Essence 2 (Treetrunk Records)

But now it’s time for me to get on the purpose of this post, Park’s The Bone Drone Trilogy which is made up Bone Drones, Bone Drones 2 and, oddly enough, Bone Drones 3. all of which were released this year on Webbed Hand Records.* Sometime this late winter or early spring, Park came across a trombone and from there the experimentation started. When I read his tweet about obtaining a trombone, I had no freaking clue what the end result would be of Park’s trombone travels, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t expect something as good as this. The Bone Drone Trilogy is filled with wonderful drones and the trombone sections are all so skillfully manipulated that one would not know their source if Park hadn’t been so forthcoming. Make sure you look at his discography as Park has released several other albums that have incorporated  trombone drones as well. Dave Seidel aka mysterybear has recently bought a shop-vac which may or may not become a musical source for him. I wonder, what new musical source Thomas Park will come up with later in the year? What ever he decides, I am looking forward to it.

Mystified’s Bone Drone 6 (mp3)

[audio http://www.archive.org/download/wh189/wh189_01_mystified_Bone_Drone_06.mp3|artists=Mystifief|titles=Bone Drone 6|animation=no]

* Thomas, it would be really great if you packaged all three of the albums up as one.

Not Your Average Garden Drone

mysterybear - Complex Silence 12

There are drones and then there are drones. mysterybear’s latest, Complex Silence 12 (Treetrunk Records), is of the latter. This is some straight-edge heavy drone for only the experienced netlabel user out there. These binaural beats created in, I believe, csound would cause a typical American family to flee their home. This I know. But for me, it’s luscious, sweet and beautiful. Does that make me wrong?

The first track, “Gyre II”, by Dave Seidel aka mysterybear was originally part of an exhibit this past January at the Jean Paul Slusser Gallery. At over 18 minutes, “Gyre II” insists on the listener’s attention. Though I have listened to the entire album through speakers, I have definitely found it more enjoyable to listen to using headphones. It is through this absorption of sound that the undulations grow and ebb, that the drones transform themselves from wave patterns to music.