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No doubt about it, the man behind Like Drone Razors Through Flesh Sphere (LDRTFS) does slow, hard and deep slower, harder and deeper than any other droning doom metal act I had the fortune (or maybe misfortune) of knowing. This recording is a single track lasting nearly 70 minutes and quite simply is a wonderful beast to flood your hearing with. If listeners are willing to try, they should hear this album late at night with all lights off and the door shut and bolted to prevent interruptions ... and any chance of escaping from the soundscapes contained within "D.R.O.N.E.R.E.X.I.A.".
The track is dominated in its first half by three competing layers of sound, a deep bass rumble and a higher-pitched guitar groan growing steadily together in volume and intensity, interrupted at more or less regular intervals by a soft cymbal clash. Some listeners may hear another layer of almost squeaky guitar drone straining until it breaks into a prolonged squeal. Cymbals may also be spinning constantly far back in the mix. There are also soft ambient effects that impart a feeling of terror coming and going: listeners will feel them as much as hear them in the form of a cold black cloud shadowing the music. The rhythmic looping is very busy and the layering of the music concentrates on the build-up towards a climax. An interesting moment occurs about the 14th to 16th minute where a definite guitar riff begins to repeat over and over and a monstrous breathy voice from the deep netherworlds beneath our feet sighs heavily.
As it progresses the track manages to maintain both an atmosphere of apparent if sinister calm and restraint and an undercurrent of increasing chaos and derangement in the roiling guitar clouds. I have never heard anything else quite like this music. The madness really increases about 24th minute, the inhuman voice is nearly breathing down our necks and chanting just audible spells, the guitars are going berserk in a compulsively repetitive way and cymbals are crashing almost chaotically. After the 30th minute, listeners are likely to be feeling very ragged and drained, the maddening guitar riffing continues to shred nerves and the cavernous background wash effects and demonic voice surge back and forth. An intense needle drone sounds off from time to time. A final crash comes at the 35th minute, the guitars start to flat-line and two minutes later fall comatose.
For much of the rest of the track, listeners are surrounded by a deep black void in which all that can be heard is a barely audible bass shudder or moan. A slight droning bass may be sighing deep in the thick medium that envelops us but we do not know if that is actually occurring in the music, is an incidental sound beyond our immediate environment or is something our own brain cells are making up either involuntarily or in response to what we've been hearing.
Some time before the end, there is a metallic industrial factory ambient rhythm that reverberates through our heads as though our brains are on an assembly line being chopped up before a send-off to the mincer. Sonorous voices from the bowels of the Earth intone instructions into what replaces brains in our noggins and regardless of their language, somehow we know we have no choice but to obey.
"D.R.O.N.E.R.E.X.I.A." is not simply a soundworld in itself, it is an entire experience, deeply immersive, intense and alternately frightening and reassuring. The style is at once soothing and steady yet brimming with inner chaos that threatens any moment to escape and overwhelm listeners. If there is a criticism to be made against the track, it is that the sound dynamics should vary more and some of the guitar texture layers should be sharper and more keen.
If you consider yourself adventurous and open-minded, unafraid of taking risks, then you should try listening to this album at the witching hour.
Sunn O))) are one of my favourite bands, have been for a while and will continue to be. However in the obscure world of drone and ambient 'music' one band stands out above the rest, Like Drone Razors Through Flesh Sphere have taken what bands such as Sunn O))), Khanate, Earth, Voice Transmissions With The Deceased etc to the next level.
D.R.O.N.E.R.E.X.I.A. is certainly a limited release and if you can manage to get your hands on one you are in for a mind expanding treat. The release comes hand sewn in a hessian bag with an old rusted skeleton key and razor blade, the cover of the slimline DVD case used to house the cd has been burnt (the plastic is swelled), due to this each album is not only limited but also very unique! (You also get a t-shirt that’s pretty cool; something more albums should come with for sure).
Now onto the contents of the album, a deep distant rumbling bass oscillation opens the 1 hour 8 minute and 26 second long track; this painfully slow, almost swelling sound is an integral part of the entire piece and will be referenced later. After 2 minutes a high pitch shimmering noise becomes present in the foreground (Think ‘N.L.T.’ by Sunn and Boris from the Altar album), this creates a degree of interest and suspension, it also adds to the overall eerie atmosphere. The bass swells in and out of ‘focus’ for a time, until the 4min 27second mark, when a ‘wall of sound’, similar to that of some Sunn songs, erupts. It is here that the main difference between the long guitar and bass droning tracks of sunn and LDRTFS become apparent, songs such as ‘HELLO)))WEEN’ and the awesome collaboration ‘Her Lips Were Wet With Venom’ show Sunn doing what they do best, the enormous chords and oscillations in such tracks is best described as a mighty wall of sound, it is very in-your-face and up front. LDRTFS however produces a similar sound but the ‘wall of sound’ never seems to enter the foreground, it constantly swells in the distance, the most noticeable difference in effect between this and Sunn is that the atmosphere created is far more dark and punishing.
There is no question that this is a long song, the listeners interest is held captivated by the constant changes that occur. Decreases and increases of certain sounds’ volumes and intensities is the key, and also something I find Sunn O lacking in a number of their longer pieces. The build up in the intro peaks with a frightening intensity which lasts for a large portion of the song. At the 37.5 minute mark the intensity drops off, and the listener is now exposed to a void of almost nothingness, except for the distant bass oscillations that were present in the very beginning. This is a long welcomed break for the listener and probably assists in keeping them in a stable state of mind. The repetition of the atmosphere that occurred in the beginning few minutes is, I think, a very clever move; it seems to unify the song as if it were all one entity and over the length of the piece we are exposed to the various personas of such an entity.
Towards the end of the piece sound scapes reminiscent of Aethenor's ‘Deep in Ocean Sunk the Lamp of Light’ become quite predominant. This is emphasised by a metallic or mechanised rolling sound, such as a wave crashing gently on a beach in the year 3000. You could also suspect to hear such a sound if you were in the hull of a large tanker rolling about in the swell of the ocean. This carries the track to its inevitable closure, and probably your minds inevitable demise such as the last few moments of a mighty elephant’s life as it enters an elephant grave yard. Some things that I have described might seem out there, but this is the point I am trying to make, music such as this creates an incredible atmosphere and has the power to manifest quite strong and very real emotions, the imagery that this audible experience created for me was nothing short of breathtaking and I would highly recommend it to anybody interested in drone and ambient music (Certainly not for the inexperienced drone listener, and if you have never listened to drone, unlikely if you are reading this, then LDRTFS is not a place to start).
I have heard that if you lock yourself in a room void of light and listen to the entirety of Black One by sunn o at extreme volumes, you will desperately crave light! If you performed the same experiment with D.R.O.N.E.R.E.X.I.A., you will not only crave light, you will want to watch every episode of the care bears ever made, and probably won’t be fit for social interaction for a number of weeks!
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!