SOUND: composition, installations, performance, releases

The Drones

Publication

Released on Stolen Mirror. January 2013.

Description

I keep coming back to drone as the essence of music, from the primal to the contemporary. Ancients must have relished the thrum of the waterfall, the lash of wind in a storm, the sound of distant thunder detected first by the hairs of the neck. Instruments like the suburuburu (bullroarer) were held sacred in societies across the globe. From this simple twirling stick came a complex sound that seemed to mirror the cycles of day and night, tide on tide, season following season.

Drums were brought out for special occasions, played not only for rhythm but to create long-term oscillations and pulses. Voices were trained to sing overtone notes and create beat frequencies... sounds that transcended what simple flesh should be capable of. Is it any wonder that such music is associated with mysterious rites and religious experiences?

In contemporary life we are surrounded by drones of our own construction: the thrum of tire on tarmac, the shriek of heavy machinery, the whine of a television transformer, or the ever-present AC power hum. These sounds are only annoying when we do not listen. If we pay attention they become strangely comforting. Their steadfast nature provides a safe context in which we can contemplate our environment, just as the chanting of monks allows thoughts to turn inwards. The drone and meditation go hand in hand.

Six years in the making, this collection explores the contemporary drone through many methods and in various forms. Tracks vary from field recordings ("Roadworks") to compositions for viola and oscillator ("Transfixed In Her Stare"). Percussion, electric guitar, organ, and bullroarer all contribute to the sonic diversity.

This album utilises particular harmonic relationships in order to create certain psychoacoustic effects. Since these become more apparent at increased volumes, it is recommended that you play this album as loud as is comfortable and safe. For this same reason, I recommend that you download the high quality FLAC files. The streaming MP3 version provides a compromised listening experience, but is provided on Bandcamp as a barrier-free alternative.

Related

"Transfixed In Her Stare" is the soundtrack to the film "Methods of Hypnosis".