Sunday, March 14, 2010

Top 10 Drone/Ambient of 2009

I did this for the 2005 set of lists. And since the last couple of months have focused on this type of thing - why not? Here are the sometimes-ambient, sometimes-droney, sometimes-"other" musics that I find worth mentioning right at this moment. By the end of the list, we're pretty clearly off the true drone/ambient axis. But "close enough," says I! Album title links take you to some kind of Headspace post on that release.

#10 Le mani destre recise degli Ultimi Uomini -
Secret Chiefs 3: Traditionalists

Le mani destre recise degli Ultimi Uomini
"Renunciation" live from 1998

Genre - Fake Italo Soundtrack
Official -
Myspace -
Location - San Francisco, CA

Review - Weirdo Music
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Lala - Le mani destre recise degli Ultimi Uomini
Purchase - Amazon

Nice little collection of 28 short set-pieces in the vein of Italian and/or horror soundtracks, as so many are doing these days. Sort of. They've got their own traditional take that differs from either Zombi or The Giallos Flame. Not quite in those realms, but maybe a good intro point to Secret Chiefs 3.

#9 Sylvester Anfang II - Sylvester Anfang II

Silvester Anfang II
"Satan likt mijn hielen" from Sylvester Anfang II (2009)
Live jam from Kunstenfestival Can'Art 2008

Genre - Krauty Drone-Jam
Official -
Location - Belgium

Review - Experimusic
Download - Boomkat, Amazon
Purchase - Amazon

I'd totally forgotten I even had this, until I checked out Vinal Edge's 2009 list. Something else must have drawn my attention at the time - it happens... This is much noisier, Krautier, and guitar-oriented than I remember. They've released a couple things more recently, and now I'm thinking about it.

#8 Perdition Hill Radio - William Fowler Collins

Perdition Hill Radio
"Slow Motion Prayer Circle" from Perdition Hill Radio (2009)

Genre - Apocalyptic Black Ambient
Official -
Myspace -
Location - Albuquerque, NM

Review - Swan Fungus
Download - Boomkat, iTunes
Stream via Soundcloud - Perdition Hill Radio
Lala - Perdition Hill Radio
Purchase - Boomkat ($6, while stocks last!)

I took a flier on this because of Boomkat's big sale - excellent deal! My regional identification enhances the weirdness of New Mexican dronework. My interest in Black Metal means I'm a sucker for mixing ambient music with those concepts. But this album stands on its own, with the haunted vibe of a decayed and destroyed desert landscape.

#7 Sonic Messenger and Infinite Macrocosm - Expo '70

Sonic Messenger
"Your Beard Is Growing Psychic" from Sonic Messenger (2009)

Genre - Guitar Space Drone
Official -
Myspace -
Location - Kansas City, MO

Review - Foxy Digitalis
Download - Beta-Lactam Records
Lala - another album
Purchase - Beta-Lactam Records (2xCD)

On the Floydian coordinates of the space-drone universe, with a good balance between direct sonics and deep exploration. I like guitars, and nothing else around here is nearly so guitar-based. Especially good for the inevitable zone-out.

#6 Broadcast and The Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age

Investigate Witch Cults of The Radio Age
A few tracks from Investigate Witch Cults (2009)

Genre - Radiophonic Hauntology
Official -
Myspace -
Location - England, UK

Review - Pitchfork
Download - Bleep, iTunes
Lala - Investigate Witch Cults [samples only]
Purchase - Amazon

Quite unexpected, innit? The songs (few as they are) ring with a particular classic '60s feel. The interludes range from the spooky to the trippy, always shifting like ghostly fluorescent shadows in a carnival sideshow held in a decrepit Victorian mansion. On a lonely high cliff, under the full blood moon.

#5 Stone Circle - Wood-Land

Stone Circle
"This Is Our Richness" from Stone Circle (2009)

Genre - Haunted Forest of Lo-Fi Psychedelia
Official/Myspace -
Location - Penn's Woods, Pennsylvania

Review - Foxy Digitalis
Download/Lala - N/A
Purchase - InstallSound (looks like it's re-issued)

Crazy, possibly Christian, hodge-podge of rustic cabin-fever visions. The band name is apt - conjuring a separate world, green and leafy... with monsters lurking. Full post coming up, this one's different.

#4 Pyramids with Nadja - Pyramids with Nadja

Pyramids with Nadja
"Into the Silent Waves" from Pyramids with Nadja (2009)

Genre - Epic Multi-Genre Mash-Up Drone/Ambient
Official -
Myspace -
Location - Denton, TX / Toronto & Berlin

Review - Tiny Mix Tapes
Download - Amazon ($4!!), iTunes
Stream - at Official site
Lala - Pyramids with Nadja
Purchase - Blue Collar Distro

I never really liked what I heard from Denton's Pyramids. Sure, it was weird. But nothing that made me dig deeper. I've liked most of the Nadja I've heard (#16 of the 2009 Metal Next 10), and will probably like more when I hear that. But this mostly doesn't sound much like either band on their own. Four looong tracks that cover almost everything: quiet, heavy, voices, beats, ambience, drone. Takes some focus to really listen, but worth it. Full post coming, most likely.

#3 Sadly, The Future No Longer Is What It Was - Leyland Kirby

Sadly The Future Is No Longer What It Was
"A Longing To Be Absorbed For A While Into A Different And Beautiful World" [YouTube edit] from Sadly, The Future No Longer Is What It Was (2009)

Genre - Electro-Acoustic Modern Composition
Official -
Myspace -
Location - Berlin, Germany

Review - Pitchfork
Download - Boomkat (mp3 or flac),
Purchase - Forced Exposure
If you are in Houston, I have seen this on CD recently at both Sound Exchange and Vinal Edge record stores.

I've spent half of five posts discussing this monster of a 6xLP/3xCD trilogy. Click on the title link above, if you dare!

#2 New Clouds - White Rainbow

New Clouds
"Major Spillage" from New Clouds (2009)

Genre - Loop-Psych Healing Drone
Official/Myspace -
"Blog" (???) -
Location - Portland, OR

Review - Pop Matters
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Lala - New Clouds
Purchase - Kranky

I like this album more than perhaps makes sense. So much, that I immediately ordered a couple more after getting it. Looped and rhythmic, with vocals and electronics, but a ton of treated guitars. I hear what others apparently get from Animal Collective's last one. Mesmerizing.

#1 Alphabet 1968 - Black To Comm

Alphabet 1968
"Hotel Freund" from Alphabet 1968 (2009)

Genre - Iconological Ambient Drone
Official -
Myspace -
Location - Hamburg, Germany

Review - Junkmedia
Download - Amazon, Boomkat, iTunes
Stream via Soundcloud - Alphabet 1968
Lala - Alphabet 1968
Purchase - Amazon

Similar thing as with New Clouds: after being blown away, I immediately started tracking down more. This one was clearly labeled a change of pace, tending more towards digestible "songs." One of the great finds of the new year so far!! You can read more in this Disquiet MP3 Discussion Group discussion. Also note that Type Records provides unlimited Soundcloud streaming for all their records (if you're not into Lala) - so check the "Stream via..." links for both this and Wm. Fowler Collins (#8).

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