Drøne’s fourth album paints a picture of an oasis in the middle of chaos. An ensemble of violin, celloes, bass, guitar, and synth pads collaborates to offer up a melodic layering that reaches us in phases- sometimes slow and calm, sometimes tense and suspenseful. It is often heavily mired in, sometimes almost buried by, an electronic expression of modern life built from field recordings and found sounds. City and vehicle noises, light industrial environments, electronic voice countdowns, and artificial drones generally pull the mood darker.
It’s comprised of two 17-minute parts, simply called ‘Side A’ and ‘Side B’, but in practice it’s broken into much smaller scenes, with the overall tone and sonic make-up changing substantially, never settling into a routine for more than three or four minutes. Sometimes the string work shines out in a purist fashion that becomes almost classical music (two minutes from the end of “Side A” for example), while at other points it’s almost music concrete (two minutes into “Side B” one of many examples I could have picked).
Perhaps this sounds a little pastoral in the way I’m describing it, but it’s full of contrasts in that respect too- most obviously in the teeth-shaking screaming section that rips right through you about eleven minutes into “Side B”, before switching to a long low string tone that feels relatively calm at first before it starts to pitch up… and up… and up… This is sheer drama, told with careful and non-excessive use of extremes.
What makes this work really shine out is its musical quality- which perhaps sounds like an inept thing to say. The string work, exquisitely recorded and sorrowful, fuses and transitions with the electronic work in a way that really elevates the latter. It’s a truly well-formed musical hybrid that makes the artificial feel natural and vice versa. It keeps you on your toes as a listener, keeping you engaged- if somewhat miserable- and ultimately very impressed, and possibly even a little shaken.