Tag Archives: Drone

Planning for Burial: The Intimacy of Loneliness

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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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Daniel Menche’s Crushing Drone and Noise Sometimes Features His Dog

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Daniel Menche has one simple, specific criteria by which he judges his music: it has to keep him awake.

“Whenever I’m mixing a record, I test it out right here,” the 47-year-old experimental artist says, pointing to the small couch that sits across from the rather imposing-looking stereo in his humble Portland, Oregon home. “I play it on my stereo and crank it up real loud and I sit there and listen. And usually what happens is, after a little while, I’ll fall asleep. Once I wake up, then I’ll know, ‘Well, gotta keep working on this.’”

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Mysterious Composer Eleh Blends Drone and Otherworldly Sounds to Haunting Effect

Artwork for Eleh

Graphics from Eleh’s Circle Four: 100 Gongs for Arieto.

Eleh‘s music could be described as a meditative moan. For the last decade, he’s crafted compositions that are long, slow and contemplative, often warbling in strange frequencies, sometimes barely there at all. It’s so soft that it’s hardly audible, similar to the hum of power lines outside. Other times, its deep bass tones are forceful enough to buckle the air in a room. A note appended to one album reads, “Volume reveals detail.” Another: “Incorporating tones as low as .05 hz (well below the range of human hearing) Eleh is as much of a physical experience as it is an audio one.”

All of the music is made with modular synthesizers, with an ear for the most intricate details of microtonal control. “Eleh came about quite by accident, while trying to sync two oscillators on an old modular synth,” the artist says. “The resultant rhythms from the closely-tuned pure wave forms were infinitely fascinating and entrancing. I forgot about syncing the oscillators, and instead followed this path.”

The artist behind Eleh chooses to remain unidentified—less out of a desire for cryptic mystery than a desire for his music to act as its own corporeal force. “I don’t think of it as anonymous—it just doesn’t have an identity attached,” he says. “Eleh is about letting go of a lot of things you want.”

His process is just as deliberate. “I build a large consonant mass of sound, then take it apart and mix it back together again and find combinations of sounds from within that mass,” he says. “It really is about mixing things very slowly so that they arrive in such a way that you didn’t notice them coming or going—so that things are morphing and changing slowly, beyond the point where it’s perceptible. At its core, it is a meditation.”

With a significant amount of Eleh’s discography now available on Bandcamp, the artist—based not in Sealand, the self-styled micronation in the North Sea off the coast of Suffolk, England noted on his page, but somewhere less-mysterious in North America—picked five especially momentous releases from his discography and talked about the ideas behind his music.

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Jay Gambit of Crowhurst on Eschewing Genre and Finding a Home for the Unmarketable

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One of the most frustrating aspects of trying to survive in the noise/punk/metal underground is the premium placed on not seeming like you’re trying. Not to say effort is frowned upon, but it should be effort for its own sake, or the sake of the art. If you admit aloud that, yes, you’d like people to hear your music, you open up yourself to accusations of careerism, capitalism, and serial uncoolness. Success and its ensuing food and rent should just happen, like the weather.

We here at Bandcamp, while still having much love for those too cool for school, also embrace the strivers. Jay Gambit—who, as Crowhurst, has posted over 80 releases on his page, from drone to ambient to epic black metal—is an idealist living through the work. Gambit makes no secret of his ambition; it’s self-evident in the scope of his labor. Talking to him is a bit dizzying: he’s so in love with the music that shapes him, and the subculture that emotionally sustains him, that there were moments in our chat that almost felt surreal. He talks about mid-level post-metal bands as though they were at a critical saturation point—like, say, The Pixies—and obscure loop and drone artists like they’re pop stars who everyone knows. His tunnel vision is appealing; his enthusiasm is contagious. If we were at a bar with him, we’d have gotten whiplash from nodding while we pretended to know every musical reference.

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Dreamsludge Duo Nadja Encourage Introspection Over Spirituality

Nadja in Berlin. Photo by Kristel Jax.

Nadja in Berlin. Photo by Kristel Jax.

Formed in 2003, Nadja was originally intended as a solo project through which experimental musician Aidan Baker could display his heavier tendencies. Two years later, he was joined by Leah Buckareff as a way to help bring the project to the stage; today, Buckareff remains a constant member of Nadja’s live and studio set-up.

While the duo’s distinctive sound is anchored in breathtakingly heavy, super slow guitar riffs, the “drone” label doesn’t do justice to the underlying intricacies of Nadja’s music or the variety of their oeuvre. For the uninitiated, a good proportion of Nadja’s mammoth discography can be explored (if you happen to have a spare month or three) through their Bandcamp page, which also offers guiding genre tags such as “dreamsludge” and “grindgaze.” Their collaborators have ranged from Jesus Lizard drummer Mac McNeilly to Italian hip-hop outfit Uochi Toki, and their heaviness is underpinned by Baker’s preference for a variant on drone music that has “some form of melodic development, whether subtle or overt.”

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