The words ‘ground breaking’ and ‘innovative’ get bandied around with all too often when describing bands who walk on the wild side of musical boundaries, leading to sub genres and clones with equal abundance, but once in a while something comes along out of the left field that is truly deserving of attention for the brazen ability to stand on its own as truly unique.
‘Drone Machines’ is such a release, causing yours truly to go from unfamiliar to fan boy in the space of a ten minute video (http://vimeo.com/2472936 – check it out to gain a full insight into this remarkable take on industrial doom). Stripping away the ethos of a laptop and a guitar by creating moving, noise generating, heavy machinery, Author & Punisher mastermind Tristan Shone has literally engineered avant garde instruments from which he has wrought tormented, pulsating drones, pounding drums and a primeval sense of emotion that is not just a triumph for visual art but a genuinely mesmerising musical journey.
Slithering into life with the tortured intro ‘Sand, Wind and Carcass’ it is immediately apparent that this is something different as the weird, reverberating drone-like sound conjures images of mournful screams across a desert plain. The chilling atmosphere added to by the unnatural sounds that Shone manages to wring from the Drone Machines, tones and notes slowing and bending in ways that a conventional instrument cannot replicate.
When ‘Burrow Below’ grinds out of the speakers the mechanised, harsh racket of machines running and crashing recalls Godflesh and ‘Filth Pig’ era Ministry jamming with Swans as the tension is cranked and coiled almost to the point of hysteria. When the lyrics appear (5 of the 11 tracks are instrumental) they are spat with acerbic venom that belies their passion and articulate nature.
‘Doppler’ showcases the advantages of harnessing the machines as they clatter and screech in the throes of a biomechanical nightmare, like some crazed, Cyborg one-man-band bent on revealing humanities failings. This is not just some clever trick or attempt at a gimmick. The versatility of the machines allows the artist to interact and become one with the music he is creating. These are complete songs and pieces of music, as carefully constructed as the bolts that hold the instruments together and there is no denying the passionate despair in lyrics such as, ‘I can see the age of the hopeless daughter and the poisoned son, I can see the path, I can see the salted path into the stagnant water’.
All this combines to create dense atmospherics capable of more dimensions than you would initially imagine possible (for one Shone’s vocal range is more adaptable than Broadrick’s). This is a deeply intense and, despite the lofty concepts, personal feeling album. The unnatural vibrating tones of the music encapsulates the bleakness of A & P’s vision – warped squeals of electronica flavouring the cavernous rhythmic sounds at times recalling the beautiful strains of Vangelis’ Blade Runner soundtrack one minute and the howls of a tortured soul the next.
In between the tracks with lyrics the drone element really comes to the fore with a respectful nod to the seismic rumblings of Sunn O))) but with dips and peaks that can leave you suffering from vertigo as the machines are used to manipulate sound in unsettling ways.
The swirling, almost psychedelic effect this produces stands juxtaposed to the pounding, clanking riffs that keep time on this album, like the relentless march of a Terminator army and feel as bleak and post apocalyptic as a William Gibson novel something echoed in the lyrics of ‘Final Hours’, Christ had his time, now this is ours, let’s use it all in these final hours.
Gushing praise aside for the novelty nature of this albums production, the music is a higher standard than I have heard from the industrial genre for quite some time and deserves to be judged in its own merit, there are a few flaws here and there, but nothing the God of Biomechanics wouldn’t let Shone into Heaven for.
Scribed by: Mark Hunt-Bryden