Review: Thraa ‘Half Light’

Back in September of 2023, I had the opportunity to catch Lorelle Meets The Obsolete perform live at the Ramsgate Music Hall in Ramsgate, Kent. It was the fifth Mother Brain show to be held at the venue, and at the time I had no idea who the support band were, or just what a revelation they would turn out to be.

Thraa 'Half Light' Artwork
Thraa ‘Half Light’ Artwork

The support band that evening happened to be Manchester duo Thraa, completely oblivious to my radar, I turned up, and let the evening unfold, only knowing the band name. What I would witness over the course of their set was something absolutely spellbinding, and yet at the same time, something which would cause such feelings of awkwardness and discomfort, that long after the duo were finished, I was still left wondering exactly what I had seen.

Thraa, if you are unaware of them, create incredibly lavish drone landscapes sonically, which get into the very fibres of your being and latch on, to give an experience which isn’t only heard, but felt internally too. Obviously, the question then is how this translates onto recorded platforms.

Within its nature, drone music is so organically created, that it is very easy to believe that no two renditions are ever going to be fully alike. Add to that the idea of translating the feelings from the live response to a recorded medium, and it can be quite the minefield to even relate one to the other.

So, with that in mind, when the opportunity to review their latest release, it was an opportunity too good to refuse, and I fully embraced it with open arms.

Half Light, to strip it down to the basics, is four tracks of mind-numbing, seizure-inducing, heart-stopping drone ambience, guaranteed to have you reevaluating the meaning of life. Upon initial listens, it’s easy to term the experience as dreamy drone, but that in no way means it is a nice, warm, lovely little romp, much like shoegaze can be. This is more a case of dreamy as in ‘otherworldly’, and surreal, for a better way to describe it.

The album, for its four tracks, still manages to total just shy of thirty-four minutes, and in that time the band capably showcase just how wonderful they truly are.

Track one, Into The Blue is eight and a half minutes of the aforementioned dreamy drone. Yes, it does feel reminiscent of shoegaze, bombastic soundscapes of disjointed ambience, but at the same time the drone throughout keeps it nestled in those darker corners of the soul. It feels like it should be an easy listen, but it isn’t in any way a relaxing event, more a precursor to an apocalyptic outpouring of some description.

four tracks of mind-numbing, seizure-inducing, heart-stopping drone ambience, guaranteed to have you reevaluating the meaning of life..

The angular guitars throb through the piece, and by its climax, any ideas of a comforting ride have already dissipated. The softly ethereal vocal washes over the piece to offset the harsher textures, and the paradox of concepts is as refreshing as it is unsettling.

Contre-Courant gives an urgency, an impending disaster, ready to strike at any moment. Even though it is the shortest of the four tracks, its overwhelming presence is absolutely felt, and as it washes away there is no doubt to the darkness which has arisen.

Next up is Delta, a never-ending monologue of sonic abrasiveness. Not loud and obnoxiously unlistenable, but darkly passionate, like the organic indigenous sounds of a distant planet, where evolution is in its infancy, and the natural order is still unfolding.

This leaves Closing Folded Hands to bring proceedings to their logical conclusion, if that were at all possible, and over the course of this sixteen-and-a-half-minute opus, you best be ready to strap yourself in for the ride, as it’s going to get bumpy. Opening with a softer ambient inception, it would be easy to assume that this finale will maybe draw things to an easier close, and to be fair you wouldn’t be wrong.

It has a softness to it, and in the haziness of the ambient soundscape, it’s easy to be fully oblivious that a soft vocal has washed in by halfway. Personally, I feel like this clarifies how the band are so much more than just a drone band and it actually has a wonderfully eclectic, shoegaze fuzziness to it, which is truly magical. It is here, especially where the concept of dreamy drone is particularly apparent, as it has all the niche abrasiveness of said genre, along with the richness of shoegaze, organically rolling together making it a match made in heaven, not yet discovered elsewhere.

Having now experienced both the recorded entity and the live incarnation, I can say, without any doubt, that this band are going to be one to keep an eye on, and if possible, catch live too. Groundbreaking, unique, and magical, Thraa have it all and are deserving of the highest praise indeed.

Label: Into Earth
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Spotify | Instagram

Scribed by: Lee Beamish