Tag Archives: Drone

Music to Soundtrack the Apocalypse

Fossil Aerosol Mining Project

Fossil Aerosol Mining Project

Apocalyptic thinking is as ancient as mankind; when human beings first realized there was a future, we also realized there would be an end. The Zoroastrian Frashokereti is the oldest surviving eschatology, and surely there were others that predated it. Centuries later, Europeans in the Middle Ages felt terror toward the advent of the year 1000 that was driven by a belief that the soul would continue to live after the Apocalypse. They made prophetic music, often based on the Book of Revelations, and that creative impulse was also surely not new to man, the music maker.

In 2017, our own fears of the future are different—perhaps more terrifying precisely because they are driven by very real, corporeal dangers, like environmental disaster, pandemic, and nuclear war. And instead of music about the Apocalypse, we have music about what comes after, which is not paradise but a devastated, emptied world, cold enough, as author Cormac McCarthy wrote, to “crack stones.”

And we have our own, growing tradition of music that imagines the post-apocalyptic wasteland. Aesthetically falling under the “dark ambient” umbrella, much of this is drone-based, beat-less, and lacking any obvious human presence. Some of it is made to intentionally express that humanity has no future, some subconsciously broadcast terrors from the zeitgeist, all of it reflects our contemporary expectations for the future.

Comments on the Bandcamp pages for the albums in this list reflect an unexpected inclination to use the music as an aid to relaxation and sleep, finding comfort in the enveloping chill of the sublime. This is music to read Thomas Ligotti’s The Conspiracy Against the Human Race, Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy, and of course Joanna Demers’s Drone and Apocalypse by. Thinking about the End of Time is so human, so natural, that we might as well enjoy it.

Bandcamp has a deep catalogue of and community for dark ambient music, but this flavor of post-apocalyptic music is far less clearly defined. The following is a list of some of the best examples of the style, curated from the ominous world.

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The Mysterious Demen Makes Music From a Deep Cavern in a Distant Past


There’s not a lot of information on the woman who records as Demen—and that’s by design. All that her label, Kranky, will offer is that her name is Irma Orm, and she’s from Stockholm. Beyond that, even Kranky has scant details. The label was initially contacted by Demen via email a couple of years ago, anonymously.

“There is no great thinking or planning behind me being anonymous,” Orm says in our interview—conducted, at her request, via email. “I am simply sharing only what I find relevant for the purpose of the project, and leaving out that which is not.”

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Machinefabriek’s Experimental Electronic Music Swings From Murmur to Explosion


Machinefabriek by Robert Gradisen

The name of Rutger Zuydervelt’s creative identity, Machinefabriek, conjures notions of futuristic industrial dystopias—but, in fact, it came from a rather unremarkable source. “The word, meaning ‘machine factory,’ was on a building that I passed each time I went grocery shopping,” he explains. The upside is that he now has a name that carries with it a kind of cold, imposing authority. The downside is that he’s now regularly approached by people wanting to invite him to things like forklift auctions.

But then again, maybe that could be a good sonic source for him. For nearly 15 years, the Rotterdam-based Zuydervelt has worked both under the Machinefabriek name as well as his own, releasing an almost daunting but also highly varied series of albums, EPs and singles. His work resists easy classification, ranging from louder explosions of sound to minimal murmurs. His stated emphasis is on ‘experimental electronic music,’ a term Zuydervelt says works as well as any, though he adds, “Terms like ‘experimental’ and ‘abstract’ are quite relative, and a lot of my music has an electro-acoustic aspect.”

We interviewed Zuyderfelt—by email, at his request—to talk more about his life and approach to work, as well as how Bandcamp has particularly suited his continually evolving discography.

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On “Concrete Desert,” The Bug and Earth’s Dylan Carlson Destroy L.A.

Bug Vs Earth

Bug vs Earth by Phil Sharp

Kevin Martin and Dylan Carlson have both been making music since the tail end of the 1980s. Martin first made his mark as a chameleonic presence in Britain’s industrial music scene, later metamorphosing into dancehall and dub, and founding his best-known project, The Bug, in the process. Conversely, Carlson essentially picked up his guitar, strummed a single epic chord, and never let go. As the core member of Earth, Carlson essentially invented drone metal, taking stoner riffs to their logical conclusion and, more recently, setting the project loose to explore mysticism and melody. The two artists had been considering collaborating for a long time, but didn’t actually meet until they bumped into each other by chance on the streets of Krakow. “We were strolling around looking to find some cake,” confirms Martin.

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Planning for Burial: The Intimacy of Loneliness


Thom Wasluck, who makes music as Planning For Burial, is an intensely private person—so much so that on his debut, Leaving, only instruments were listed in the album credits, not names. I didn’t know who he was until a year after I discovered him; at one point, I assumed they were an actual, multi-member band. This solitariness bleeds into the music as well; Wasluck’s songs explore how intimate loneliness can be. He combines doom, slowcore, drone, and goth-pop and uses it to soundtrack meditations on past loves slipping into mist, and watching days become weeks while bedridden with regret. It’s as if Phil Elverum traveled with Sleep’s rig.

After living in Matawan, New Jersey, for just under a decade, Wasluck moved back to his childhood home in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania in 2014, to pursue an apprenticeship in the International Association of Heat & Frost Insulators Union. Below The House, his third and latest full-length, was recorded in this home. There’s more accessible material on here than his previous work, such as the heavy, Cure-esque “Warmth of You” and the crushing expansiveness of “Somewhere in the Evening.” It feels enclosed and intimate, and even when it drifts into serene drone or tracks colored by somber piano, it never has the spacey quality that the quieter moments on previous albums did. That’s because Wasluck didn’t have much room to move: he felt more isolated when he returned home, and took refuge in whiskey—a lot of it.

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