Tag Archive: drone


Dirty Knobs : Ghost Geometry

I really enjoy ambient music, especially long-form drone, but what really makes me take notice is when that music is atmospheric/cinematic. This has it in spades. If you were watching someone conduct this it would be a very dramatic performance, not through the vigour of the conductor, but through the atmosphere that is generated.

Ghost Geometry by Dirty Knobs comprises 4 hours of atmospheric drone. The album is rich and vibrant : imagine walking into a cathedral on another plane of existence while the musicians are checking out the acoustics. Imagine long, sustained notes building up, layered on top of each other, flowing across the floor, slowly lapping up against the walls and flowing back straight at you. Imagine this blocking out everything, deadening all other sounds until you can hear nothing but Ghost Geometry. If you could see sound this would be like watching a viscous liquid slowly filling a space as the sound increased and changed.

As with most long form drone, changes are subtle and slow to occur. I think one of the reasons I enjoy listening to this so much is because Ghost Geometry is a single long form piece of music that has been ‘divided’ into 7 chapters. Listening to it without reference, one is unable to tell where the majority of the tracks begin and end because the change between them is subtle and unhurried. Nevertheless, each track has its own unique quality.

I know I use this expression a lot, but this is ‘journey music’. It fills the imagination – not with specific imagery but with a sense of place, a sense of environment. As you listen to it you gradually become aware that although the start of the album is filled with rich, deep resonating sounds, the mood gradually lightens as the album progresses. Near the end of the piece you experience ethereal spaces filled with liquid light that contrast with the darker, almost orchestral heavy areas near the start where behemoths lurk and prowl.

Overall, layers of sound gradually build up, raising the intensity of the album. The music takes on an inexorable quality. Parts of it seem to rush at you, building up the pressure, then receding, then rushing at you again, tides of sound enveloping you, picking you up and depositing you on strange shores.

So, who is Dirty Knobs? This is the music of Zac Bentz, an accomplished musician and a man of many talents. Zac was kind enough to answer a few questions about Ghost Geometry. Ghost Geometry follows on Field Recordings From The Edge Of Hell, an 8hr epic that uses the same method of transforming electronic sounds, stretching them to produce long form drone. I used the term orchestral above because when I listen to this, it certainly has that feeling, and I thought perhaps an organ had been used after the ‘stretching’ transformation. I asked Zac if this was the case and he said the sound you hear is entirely the result of the stretching effect.

I think that’s largely a result of the process. I use many different layers of sound throughout each song, then work on stretching them out to see what happens to them. Certain qualities of sound work better than others, so it’s a bit of trial and error to get something that sounds right (for lack of a better word). The feeling that it often sounds like an organ might come from those long, sustained notes and the sort of slow modulation that occurs. But in fact the original sounds are totally electronic and rather unlike organs.”

I think that’s amazing. So, is this process an easy thing to accomplish? Apparently not. From previous interviews it is obvious that there is quite a bit of trial and error involved at the start of the creation of the album, and that the process gradually becomes honed, producing this excellently atmospheric work.

When I litened to Ghost Geometry, I had not heard Field Recordings From The Edge Of Hell. I had to get it, and after listening to it, it is quite apparent that although both albums are similar, they are in fact also quite unique. The biggest difference is that FRFTEOH contains separate, distinguishable tracks. Also, and this was quite interesting, Zac said that the naming of the tracks on Ghost Geometry was designed to be deliberately vague – meaning that the names are sufficiently surreal that the listener can create their own world and populate it as they wish. This is the main difference between the two albums. When you listen to FRFTEOH, it is easy to see why the tracks are named as they are. The Locust Eaters contains a continual metallic rushing as of millions of tiny wings, The Minotaur’s Breath contains exhalations that are strange enough that it is easy to imagine a minotaur at rest. When you listen to Ghost Geometry, the imagination is not constrained by recognisable labels, but can roam free, counjuring anything it fancies to fit the music – the track names help promote this freedom of the imagination. Zac said:

After Field Recordings from the Edge of Hell, I wanted to simplify things a bit, make something that was more like one whole piece rather than separate scenes. I also wanted it to be a bit more vague and imposing, so the song titles are rather arbitrary, though I did put some thought into them. To me, these songs evoke images of huge shapes rolling through an ethereal space, so the idea that they were some sort of otherworldly architecture evolved from that. It’s more like feeling the geometry rather than seeing it, if that makes any sense…

From the release page:

Ghost Geometry is four unbroken hours of sub-harmonic oppression and walls of melodic haze. Using techniques both new and old, Ghost Geometry is a cloud of expansive architecture exploding into our physical world.

If you really wanted to go for it, listen to FRFTEOH followed by Ghost Geometry – 12hrs of amazing music – they fit together rather well.

Field Recordings From The Edge Of Hell

 Zac Bentz

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Honourable Mention 2

Listen to some of these – ambient, minimal techno, dub-techno, dark ambient, downtempo, drone… Some very good albums here. If I had the time I’d write a lot more. Ctrl+click on the image to open the download/purchase page in a new tab.

Tillman Slayer – Chiquandella Street – Orignal experimental ambient music.

 

 

 

 

Giriu Dvasios – Visa – Very deep Dub-Techno

 

 

 

 

Dan Miñoza – Winter Kept Us Warm – Dark industrial ambient longform. Technological dounds…

 

 

 

 

The Circular Ruins – Invisible Cities – Clean clear shimmering ambient

 

 

 

 

Point – Deepending – Quality groovy techno

 

 

 

 

Smooth Genestar – Rem Phase – Warm comfortable downtempo sounds.

 

 

 

 

Sandwell District – Feed Forward – Excellent smooth techno rhythms. These tunes are mature and well rounded.

 

 

 

 

SlowNoise – The Cold Ground – Superb heady dub-techno that’s heavy on the dub. Spacious!

 

 

 

Giriu Dvasios – Ziema – Dub Techno with deep bass textures. Subliminal!

 

 

 

 

Reptilian Fur – Compilation album featuring many types of ambient to suit all moods.

 

 

 

 

Kirill Platonkin – Pines At Sunset – quality dense drone ambient from Russia!

 

 

 

 

Wings Of An Angel – In My Darkest Dreams – Massive ambient/dark ambient album. Some very long form tracks totalling 4hrs!

 

 

 

 

Aythar’s Soundcloud profile – Lots of great electronic mesmerising ambience. Very good sounds! Check out Aythar and Aythar3 too.

 

 

 

 

Red Fog – Anthracite Winter Over The Lidocaine River – From Paralucid – another great ambient drone album with a sprinkling of dark ambient too…

 

 

 

 

i AM esper – Floating Black – More guitar work from New Brunswick soon to be released on Vomit Bucket Productions and Depressive Illusions Records

 

 

 

 

Harkonnen : Harkonnen

Harkonnen’s eponymous album is a gem. There are two versions available. The version for sale on the Harkonnen website includes nearly an hour of bonus material taken from a rare live performance. Buy it anywhere else and you’ll just get the studio tracks.

Harkonnen are Rob Warner and Uwe D’rose. Rob plays synths and Uwe plays guitars. These two guys have produced an amazing album where all the music flows around a common theme. When asked, Uwe says that both he and Rob were in one mind as to what the finished product would sound like. It shows. This is a well performed, well laid out album. Rob Warner was responsible for the technical and production duties and has done an excellent job. Uwe describes Harkonnen as the ‘other side’ of Beyond.

Harkonnen opens with a scorching track called Rise Of The Machines that employs some amazing gutar work. The riffs used here are deep and menacing, the sort of sound you would associate with the implacable will of a mechanised construct. Awesome. Age Of The Machines is similar – powerful music with gritty lead guitar, but which is a celebration of all things industrial and robotic.

Ghosts In The Bitstream uses a soft lead to evoke a sense of loss – lead guitar creating a melancholic drone. The sound, though, is still within the Harkonnen recipe. (R)age Of The Machines starts gently then drops you back into a harsh industrial environment with plenty of twisted lead and awesome riffs.

All Human Is Error makes an unequivocal statement. Humans? Who needs them!

The Last Robot and The Final Sunset have a certain melancholy. The drones in The Final Sunset evoke a beautiful image of the sun setting, but you know that it will never be appreciated by the mechanised society over which it sets.

The Machines (Live) is a showcase of what lead guitar can sound like when done well. The lead overlays a rich synthesised background and the two harmonise very well. When you listen to the live tracks on the extended version of the album (remember – only available from the Harkonnen website), you may not realise that what you are hearing is the work of Rob Warner on his own. He plays everything. There are three live tracks, two longform at about 20mins (The Man In The High Castle Pts 1 and 2), separated by a shorter track named The Machines which is rich with plenty of guitar work. The Man In The High Castle Pt 2 begins with robotic murmurings and quickly becomes quite dark, lending it a tense atmosphere. This is maintained when a rythmic pulse gently creeps up on you, and the voices occassionally become louder and more ominous. The track is a showcase for deep minimal mechanical noises put together to create a powerful dark industrial soundscape. Man In The High Castle (Part 2) live is original dark ambient synth style. This is a classy piece of music and ends the album beautifully.

Rob and Uwe have worked together on various projects for 35 years and it shows in this album. The elements harmonise very well, the live performance is excellent, and the album has a common theme throughout. When you hear any particular track from the album you can most definitely recognise it as being ‘Harkonnen’. It varies from full-on melodic lead, awesome synths and gentle drone. There are classic elements of electronica here too, particularly in All Human Is Error, where the voice reading the charge appears to emanate from some kind of Orwellian mechanoid. The album is inexorable. The tracks march on, effortlessly overcoming all obstacles. Production is excellent, especially on the live tracks – everything is clear and stands out.

I’ve played this album many times and it really appeals to me. If you enjoy classic lead guitar, great riffs, marvellous and original synth sounds, and if you prefer your albums to play around a common theme, then this is definitely for you. I can’t recommend this enough!

Rob Warner is presently working on three other projects: The Beyond (With Uwe), BROADKAST (an industrial dance project) and the record label/sample library Ambient Source. He is also part of an as yet unnamed elctro-acoustic ethnic folk project. Uwe D’rose is the guitarist in Landmarq who have just released a double CD and will be playing various UK dates this year.

Dentist : Accidents

The Ep Accidents by Dentist was released by Rural Colours earlier this year. ‘Lost Track’ is light and airy and has a dream-like quality that lulls the listener into a wonderfully relaxed state. The second track, ‘Gliding’, begins with a slow repetitive drone that provides a mesmeric back-drop to isolated swirls of sound that gently announce themselves, provide a short performance and then fade away before being replaced by the next set.

‘Spirals’ is a slower paced track, where lush drones wash over the listener like a gentle tide, cleansing the mind and leaving you feeling fresh and clear. As ever, the last track, ‘Spray’ is yours to discover on your own.

A really nice set of ambient tracks by Dentist (part of Bengalfuel), it is obvious that this artist is certainly one to keep on your radar. Download the Ep (link on the release page) and set aside 20 mins and let the music turn you horizontal.

Kirill Platonkin : Psychic Transport

Kirill Platonkin  creates amazing ambient drone in different flavours. Various netlabels and labels have released his albums, including Darkwinter, Biodata, Umpako, ADX Records and more… He also releases his work via his own Tukuringra Netlabel.

Psychic Transport is full of dreamy drones. The album begins with a light airy piece named ‘Effervescent Light Of Beyond’. It wafts around like fog, swirling gently about your speakers and sets the tone for the rest of this incredibly relaxing album. ‘Exfoliation of Illusions’ is a little harder and reading the description of the album in which Kirill describes the journey that souls might take when searching for a form of nirvana, or simply a better life, it is apparent that this track is intended to convey the sense of stripping off superflous material concerns, exposing a purer form that can move on the next incarnation of existence.

Metempsychosis describes the ermergence of the soul after it’s ‘exfoliation’. Clinical yet soft drones introduce the track and slowly transform into stronger, richer sounds levelling out to a comfortable drone that itself devolves into a sigh of wind.

The title track is awesome and is, I think, one of Kirill’s best moments. It begins with a slow rhythmic rushing and a supporting light tone that gently wavers. The two exist independently to begin with but slowly recognise each other and gradually work together to form a harmony that is so soft you are left with a feeling of having felt something quite special.

‘We Fly’ takes this concept further. Gentle drones that give a sense of true relaxing ambience, almost as if the characters portrayed feel they are close to their goal – attaining a sense of true self.

I have to admit to being a big fan of Kirill Platonkin’s work. Psychic Transport is a very good album and well worth listening to. You can let the discussion guide you and consider the concept of liberation through hearing (Bardo Todol – a guide for the spirit as it passes through the experience between death and rebirth), or simply enjoy its wonderful ambient sounds for what they are.

From the release page:

The idea of “Psychic Transport” was born in a dream, where people were like shiny beams, moving to and fro in space, reincarnating in different worlds and in different forms. Men and Women turned out to be the portals for new spirits’ arrival on Earth. Furthermore, the whole atmosphere is much influenced by Bardo Todol, a guidebook for released souls, who should seek for effervescent and dazzling light, and avoid soft light sources – to get closer to really Better World. So, this album is an attempt to look into the unknown depths of the Other Side.

Red Fog : Sculpted In Luminol

Cover artRed Fog produces quality ambient drone with more than a hint of darkness added to the mix. aReW Recordings have recently released Sculpted In Luminol which features 4 tracks covering 52mins.

Anyone familiar with Dronerider can expect a slightly busier production, but with the same dark quality. These tracks comprise minimal industrial and organic sounds laid over drones that conjour vibrant landscapes to populate your imagination. ‘Memory Of The Ferrofluids’ leaves you with a distinct impression of what said ferrofluids’ environment might sound like. ‘199 Broken Light Tubes’ is a great spacey echoing piece that puts me in mind of alien factories operating in the vacuum of space and evolves into lush organic noises gently bubbling and popping away in some primal black swamp. Frostar is a beautiful ambient track that gently caresses the senses with deep drones accompanied by lighter ephemeral overlays. Like 199 Broken Light Tubes, it gradually introduces organic sounds (quite different from the previous track) that allow the track to evolve. Chloroform Phantom? I’ll let you discover that one for yourselves.

I really enjoyed listening to this. If you appreciate light and dark ambient mixed but with a strong leaning to the darker side, get this.

Remember, the red is the sound, the fog is the canvas.