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No music, just weird narratives - 82%

gasmask_colostomy, December 3rd, 2019

The recently arrived release Da Capo is probably the point where we should realize that Alpha Drone is not only a musical project, but a general artistic vision that can expand to any sphere its sole member sees fit. As a compilation of the 4 current posts from the band’s blog, there is no music at all to be heard on this recording, just a recitation of the posts. Maybe we should have been warned when the title track of For Ana featured a troubling story read over the course of its 23 minutes, but here we’ve gone right off the beaten track. However, don’t confuse lack of music with an absence of sonic content, since a basic audio book this is not. All of the readings have been recorded and modified, slowing down the voice of Johann Aegidius Ritter to a (fittingly) laboured drone and enhancing it with all manner of echo effects. Bearing in mind the topics, the alien timbre that results was an apt choice, necessitating full concentration from the listener in order to extract the meaning of the stories.

It wouldn’t do for me to reveal all the content of the writing, so a general description and a few examples will serve Da Capo better. I would classify all 4 pieces as speculative fiction, quite close to what was produced last century by Jorge Luis Borges, though with a greater focus on current issues and modern preoccupations. Whether these pieces are designed to be believed is not entirely clear, seeing as how Ritter inserts himself into the longest narratives quite naturally, while the subjects on paganism and vaccinations seem more like theses written in weird conspiracy theory environs. All are plausible to some degree, which shows a great control of narrative and language, despite the admission (by Ritter himself in ‘It Walks Among Us’) that his mastery of English has come comparatively recently. Particularly, the sequences of events and ideas that slowly shift each narrative into weirder and weirder realms are artfully handled.

To give a slightly better idea of what Ritter is talking about (and to tease you just a little bit), I feel I should mention that the alien timbre especially lends itself to the first piece, ‘Voices from the Other Side’. How the train journey of a lager-drinking metal troglodyte can become a situation that holds the listener rapt in attention largely comes down to the delivery of the line “Why are you trespassing on my domain?” and the cosmic implications it carries with it. Enough teasing for now; go and listen to the rest yourself. That first piece might be the best on offer, though the drama of the longer narratives contrasts well with the pondering of the other pieces, except when Ritter becomes somewhat taken with repeating “mice” and “mouses” during ‘The Truth About Vaccinations’, which seems unnecessary.

In addition, the recordings were obviously made quite casually, since occasional stumbles in speech remain on the final product, as well as an amusingly clear meow in ‘The Truth of Evil in European Paganism’. Mysteriously, the cat remains uncredited. Despite the odd format of Da Capo, a lot is gained from releasing the blog posts in this way, adding credibility to the narrative frames and allowing speculation to take place at a deliberate pace. Alpha Drone keeps getting stranger, but in my view that’s a very positive thing.