is one of my favorite boutique labels, which is not to call it precious, save
in the sense of valuable, but one rather a label which sells a particular
flavor of music. Drones are seven-inch slabs of colored vinyl, to be
played at 33 1/3 rpm, in limited editions usually of 300 copies each.
Each edition is individualized, but certain aspects are uniform: inside will
be a sturdy paper sheet listing all pertinent data about both sides of the
disc. Each artist designs a paper overlay, often with special textured
handmade paper or handmade art, surrounded by another thick but opaque plastic
sleeve. The solid-colored or mottled vinyl is thick but will have a modicum
of surface noise which adds to the intrigue of the music. Every single
Drone I own has its own three- to ten-minute soundworld for you to be lost
Some recent Drones:
MURMER. in his home/ in her head.
Drone DR-85, ice-colored 7” vinyl. www.murmerings.com
The cover is solid black, with a large rectangle of hand-made paper, grey
with purple and white flecks.
Side A: "in his home"
From silence comes a tiny whirring drone with little rays of slowly throbbing
high pitched drone, studded with grindy crunchies. Here and there a wooden
pop. Crescendo, and sudden silence. Sounds manipulated: I hear
walking through slushy gravel or the playing of a silent, scratchy 78.
Metal drone enters. Silence. Throwing of the bones, thrice, several
times. None of this is literal, of course. This side exemplifies
the best aspect of Drone: a sound world unto itself. You are totally
captivated for five minutes which is its own lifetime. This track is
what the French Metamkine label calls "cinema for the ear," although an aural
narrative is the exception for Drones.
Side B: "in her head"
Low drone rumble, as if an acoustic bass had all filtered out except the lowest
frequencies. Enter a monster slowly chewing paper, overlaid with a low-level
whir, not too loud, as if your ears were popping from pressure. The
drone continues, finally ending in a whir and water.
Drone DR-86, cobalt blue 7" vinyl. www.licht-ung.de
side A: "Listen to the music playing inside your head"
side B: “Heute war ich bei den weissen Elefantens.”
Unless this is just two lines of text on the cover and not the track titles.
White paper sleeve with raised, silk-screened black inks with text in German,
of which I understand only individual words: something about stuff springing
from rivers, and mother and sister, The other side a blurred design
from woodcuts of plants, animals, and perhaps a house or is that a candle?
A one-inch black and white button is pinned to the bottom of the 7” sleeve,
with an abstract design, perhaps of a horse, with tiny text I can’t quite
make out saying, “Playing the...”
Side A: Etched in the vinyl: “rate, was in meiner schastel ist.”
Musically, we are now in more abstract territory than Murmer. There
are several layers of drone; low, floorshaking rumble, a low, metallic whistling
sound which evolves and mutates: think of "3000 Light Years From Home."
A low pitched sound which has a trumpeting aspect, morphing into a grainy
metallic flake. Is it trumpeting or a distant pipe organ in an underground
cavern. Or a nightmare in a covered futuristic racetrack. It ends,
but then a slight return: perhaps another motor coming around a dark bend.
This side gives me chills.
Side B: Etched in the vinyl: “Matin, der erste gesange der voegel.”
Morning, the first bird songs. The music: Higher-pitched sounds, like
bowed metal. Like some of the best free-improv. Only about three
minutes. Truly strong work. Messiaen en metal?
dreams machina. in / out. Drone
DR-90, ice-grey 7” vinyl. www.noisedreamsmachina.blogspot.com
Insert: Sturdy paper, grey one side, black the other, the grey a strikingly
beautiful silkscreen of mapped vectors and text giving contact data as well
as print: “interstellar washing wachine” as well as thanks for freeware and
Side A: Harsh blast of noise, the MGM lion having a total freakout!
High velocity noise layers fly past your ears, overloaded, grainy textured
noise. Motor-driven drones and grey-sounding crunky meteors pass by
Analog ripple, joined by abstract drone hard to metaphorize. Water runs
down the gurgles spout. When it’s over you run back to the turntable
for another ride through these several climactic zones.
Side B: A machine becomes a wolf with an a-whoo, with tintinnabulous
drone with random telephone pulses. Drones drop in and out. Early
analog whish and grr and tones. Pulses throb. Feels like the drone
nephew of Geo. Harrison’s “Electronic Sound” and Morton Subotnick. Home.
As label proprietor Stefan Knappe closes all his correspondence, “Happy Drones!”
Next feature will cover releases by his Troum moniker. Meanwhile, you
can read more about them here: www.dronerecords.de