Review: Drowse ‘Wane Into It’

As 2022 is draws to a close, as is always the case, we tend to get quite reflective over the past year, and for me, one area that I look back on is the music that’s been released. Yes, writing for the almighty Shaman has opened some doors on music which would have otherwise remained alien to me, but even expanding out, it has seen a year where amongst all of the absolute user-friendly tripe that has spewed forth, some real pearls have emerged from the swine too.

Drowse 'Wane Into It'

Pondering on that notion, alongside some other truly magical moments this year, staking a claim in my top albums of the year comes this, the new album by Drowse. It is entitled Wane Into It, and it has absolutely blown me away with its very being.

To the uninitiated, Drowse may come across as another trademark shoegaze band, but they are so so much more than that. The brainchild of musical overlord Kyle Bates, Drowse isn’t so much music, as it is an emotion. Not since discovering Slowdive back in the early nineties, has something so monumental in its understated form arrived, and made such an impact on me specifically.

Yes, there are plenty of bands out there who catch that shoegaze dream pop aesthetic with such eclecticism that it can be indistinguishable from multiple other bands of the genre, but there is only a minute few who can take it, evolve it, and reimagine it to a point where its as if they are creating the whole genre from scratch, and make it feel completely new, just like Drowse do.

Looking squarely at the latest release, Wane Into It, it is impossible to point towards any one track to tempt you onto the ride. Each track has its own uniqueness, and while it all stays within the same ballpark, the number of curveballs sent out is truly wonderous.

To delve in a little closer, it would only be appropriate to start at the beginning and work our way through, pointing out the more subtle nuances along the way.

The album opener Untrue In Headphones rolls in, to set the tone for the opus. Drifting in on an eclectic shoegaze haze, the dreamy soup of disjointed guitar, atop a dreamy vocal, is absolutely mesmerising. With an air of nostalgia rooted squarely in the ‘80s and early ‘90s, it also tugs at the coattails of the indie scene that was so vibrant back then. While it is somewhat whimsical, complete with ethereal vocal brushes, it is a little uncomfortable and hypnotic at times.

The washes between ambience and the darkness are richly artistic…

The aptly titled Mystery Pt. 2 acts to solidify that drone/shoegaze ambience as it plays through. With its whimsical wishy washy casual strummed guitar, it conjures up lazy Sunday mornings and the feeling of drifting off into nothing on the couch. Cool and considered, this track gives a huge tip of the hat to the always iconic Slowdive. Even the vocals, feeling like the very spirit of Neil Halstead, has been lifted from his very being, and delicately laid over this track. Charming and ambient, it absolutely warms every single fibre of my being.

Track three, (Ashes Over The Pacific Northwest), opens a darker side to Drowse, and it’s here where those drone sensibilities really show themselves. Darker in tone, and more disturbing in its nature, the disjointed soundscapes still manage to feel eerily otherworldly, and sure do serve to open another side to the project.

Both Wane Into It and Gabapentin eloquently return us to that opulent shoegaze-y, dreamscape-y vibe to truly encapsulate Drowse’s place in what should be shoegaze superstardom. At times, slow, drawn-out notes linger on the air, only to be replaced by a pensive starkness in sound. The full magnitude of the work is ever-present and insanely breathtaking.

Three Face (Cyanoacrylate) is richly darker and more mysterious in mood. The attention to detail on specific sections creates a texture that is absolutely beautiful. The washes between ambience and the darkness are richly artistic, and by the end of this track, there is no doubt left what an epic work of art this album truly is.

By the time Ten Year Hangover / Deconstructed Mystery rolls through to close the album, its forlorn whimsical vibe brings about a darker outpouring, A sparse, yet heavy darkness rolls over the piece, and by the time the closing monologue has played through, and trails off into the darkness, what’s left is a sense of complete fulfilment.

Coming away from the work, my elation at having had an opportunity to cover this specific album has left me truly emotional. If you are a fan of shoegaze, and dream/drone pop, I believe this album will be the new benchmark. I fail to summon up any like-minded band of the last twenty years who have captured that dark shoegaze vibe and tone, like is exposed here, by Drowse. Already firmly in place on my top ten list for 2022, this really has been sublimely wonderful.

Label: The Flenser
Band Links: Official | Facebook | Bandcamp | Twitter | Instagram

Scribed by: Lee Beamish