|Dylan Carlson (Earth), the master upon his throne|
Back when I was sixteen/seventeen years old (memory fails me) and still had the money to buy records on a regular basis, and indeed, afford the bus to Dublin city where I could purchase such records, I made sure that whatever CD I snatched up from its rack in Tower Records was going to be something familiar to my ears. Usually I'd have already heard snippets of a band's music at a friend's house, read something about them in a magazine, or wet my lips on a gateway track on some free compilation CD. I always knew exactly what I was looking for whenever I walked into Tower Records or any of those too-cool-4-school metal record shops, there was always a song in my head when I went searching through those racks. Except for one occasion, of course, the day the word "Drone" was entered into my vocabulary.
It was a copy of Sunn O))) & Boris' masterpiece, Altar, that caught my eye. Maybe it was one of those gimmicky articles in an issue of Terrorizer, Hammer, or even Kerrang!, but the name Sunn O))) was familiar to me. Their music, however, was not, but there was something about the look of that record that made me part ways with my few bob that day. I was already sick to death of black metal, I had just been introduced to The Melvins and EyeHateGod, my taste buds were changing and I was looking for a new strain of "heavy", the kind of weight of sound that my Darkthrone and Carpathian Forest albums just weren't providing me with anymore. So when that first, world-eating note of "Etna" filled my headphones and rattled my skull, I felt as though the dragon was the one chasing me. I'd never heard anything like it, and this was at half volume.
That's the power of Drone, in any form it may take, Drone lingers and allows you to soak it up. Failing that, it'll soak you up. You don't listen to it for a riff, you don't sit your friend down in front of it and chirp "Oh wait, wait for this part", you don't request a particular song at a Drone concert and chances are you don't even have a favourite Drone. That's because half of what happens in a Drone song is of your creation, it's your imagination, you are as much a part of the music as those that recorded it. Interpretation and imagination are key and this is a music that can be experienced in so vastly different ways that it's hard to pin down what exactly is happening when you listen to it. Your mind is as important an instrument as the amplifier.
Black Boned Angel
Though they called it a day last year, Black Boned Angel created some of the most harsh and haunting audio landscapes spanning 13 releases over a ten year period. The New Zealand duo (later trio) was a supergroup born of infamous experimental and noise musicians, Campbell Kneale and James Kirk. Their grit-teeth, sluggish brutality has rivaled names like Sunn O))) and Khanate. However deceased, this is a group one should still approach, but do so with caution.
Perhaps my favourite of the three, Newcastle's Bong are psych and doom merchants, through and through. They've authored just about every kind of hypnotic vibration you can imagine, and each release has the ability to transport you to wherever your mind's eye cannot. This is ritual music.
You could describe the music of Predator Vision with so many different adjectives; Low-fi, Psychedelic, Noise, Kraut...and they're all of those things wrapped up in one, but the spirit of Drone haunts this one. I myself know very little about Predator Vision, who they are or where they come from, all I have are a few recordings, a few snippets of recordings, and an inkling that they won't be putting out three minute long crowd pleasers any time soon, if they even still exist. Cue eerie theremin music.