Thursday, July 11, 2013

Free drones (updated)

This is NOT a Dave Stafford sub blog, but.....

As you all know I like free music, especially if it is good.

For a few years in the middle of the first decade of this century a group of four musicians traded samples and sounds, and created a wealth of drones. One of those musicians was the (here) ubiquitous Mr Stafford). The music they created was released under the moniker Drone Forest. Ian Stewart was the main driver (and released solo efforts under the name), but each of the quartet curated some of the albums and were involved in creation (including a live album).

Daves recollection and the pointer I got is here.

Any way, in the end Drone Forest is associated with 19 releases to date (original albums, remixes, 10 disks of Mega:Drone selected from 100 hour long pieces, drones created by processing other artists work). Many of these are available for free download from the Drone Forest website.

I have downloaded a handful of them and can recommend them as diverting and varied minimal ambience pieces. Drone has a powerful ambient history - names that come to mind are Jilat and the Rain series started by Mystified on Webbed Hands label (which I have noted in the past & went to have a look at yesterday and there is a huge number [nearly 300] releases there, a significant proportion fit under the Rain banner) or the Mystery Sea label reviewed many years ago (and still going I see) let alone the 7" Drone records that popped up in TIMR recently.

The Forest is notable because the origin of sounds from four very different artists together with their individual or group responses to the sounds leads to a more varied set of albums. I have 8 albums (or 10 if you count 3 from the Mega:Drone separately) and of course haven't been able to listen to them all intensely yet; but each one that comes on has a different perspective on the genre providing varied experiences.

Definitely well worth delving into.


I have now downloaded almost a gigabyte of music - 11.4 hours, and have listened to a fair wack. I see three forms of drone here:
classical drone - exemplified by the Meta:Drone albums (I have 5) which do work on the continuous slowly changing note/chord form of the drone

collaborative drone: most of the other albums have been created by the group or individual members (each has curated some albums or parts of albums [for example drone forest IV has a mix of tracks, while Zoso is just Dave Stafford {credited as Davie Blint - Consequences again}]). Here they took/take the remit of beatless samples for whoever to mix. There are drones, site recordings, guitars, noises - mixed into a complex ambience. This was taken to the extreme with the live album, where they each went into the studio at an appointed time, created an hour of music, and then assembled the whole. These are not pure drones, but a complex ambient form.

applied drone: here a sample is taken and processed into submission. For the two remix albums tracks by other, identified artists are used (the longest is via Godley/Creme and bears traces of Consequences - and I just checked and the track is by D Blint) to create glitchy minimalism, but the whole Drone Forest oeuvre was also manipulated for Forester.

There is also an album by John Gore of 'kirchenkampf' using the source material, so could be considered a collaborative drone.

Anyway - a very varied and enjoyable set of musics.

Update update
I now have downloaded all the downloadable albums (three aren't available - the vinyl release, a 3"cd and the first remix album) and even highlyer recommend them

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