Monday, July 30, 2012

Some thoughts on drone and Flesh Canoe

I scribbled the majority of this down while sitting at Director's Park in downtown Portland, while working out a write up for one of the new Lillerne Tape releases, Fullerton Avenue Rhythm Arranger by Miracle Blues, whom I know absolutely nothing about. This is the initial direction that it took which I thought was worth posting here, because, for the sake of brevity and relevance, I cut out all of the Animal Collective "Flesh Canoe" stuff when I submitted it to Tiny Mix Tapes, and replaced it with information about the Miracle Blues tape.

This might be a bit of a continuation to an older post I did called Umm, Getting Lost OR I Remember Person Pitch... It Sounds Different Now OR Bands That Play On The Floor, in the sense that both of these posts probably stem from me constantly struggling to explain to people why I like a lot of the music that I do. It's hard telling people that it is more than just "background music," and actually being able to explain why.

Here it is:

The word drone, in its many forms, always seems to imply a sort of subterranean feel. An existence just outside of immediate consciousness. Drone strikes happen from a nearly undetectable mechanical force that seems to come from nowhere and disappear as quickly as it came. A military force with no visible military presence.

The idea is the same when referring to worker drones. Employees capable of doing the work on a nearly unconscious level; their minds wandering elsewhere in order to retain sanity.

Drone, as a music genre, works the same way. A tuning out that exists below our surface consciousness, accented only by little spikes that attack from nowhere and decay as quickly or slowly as they came. The way artists incorporate these peaks above the surface is what seems to differentiate most drone music; it’s the way the song pulls you from the quicksand all drone often spends the first minutes dragging you into.

A friend of mine in Ames, Iowa praised the song “Flesh Canoe” off of the Animal Collective album Feels, explaining that so much of the song takes place below the surface. And while “Flesh Canoe” is far from drone, it does share the same murky foundation—the bubbling pressure of water so deep that nothing escapes without damage, the gospel-like crescendos and guitar chugs included. Avey’s voice serves as the only real peak above the surface. It’s like a condensed drone track without any of the patient danger. No worries. No drowning. No waiting. No hand bursting through the surface to save us from the quicksand. Rather, the hand is offered from the very beginning of the song in the form of a “Young red bird…

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