steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion


"26" CDR

Frequent Sea

Genre: drone, experimental, ambient

Oakland CA

October 2009

Seems abandoned factories are all the rage these days. The audio for this dark drone release is based on field recordings collected at several defunct industrial sites, providing an eerie back story to an otherwise mysterious sonic experience. I am a bit unclear on the methods employed to create the sound, although VSLS' Travis Johns (le Pink Canoes, Satellite) makes use of disparate frequencies to create binaural beats - something which produces a unique ebb and flow amid the drone. According to his website, Johns has a particular fascination with the perception and effect of sound on the subconscious mind - something which might explain the chilling effect of this album's two compositions.

At nearly thirty minutes, the first track - "COMAE" - is not for the casual music fan. Indeed, what we get is a deep, mechanical drone that evolves at a tectonic pace. But the track's beauty comes from what is accomplished with such slow-changing sound. Deep within the noise are faint nuances and imperceptible details, and over time the drone metamorphoses in terms of pitch and timbre. The atmosphere of "COMAE" is a very alienating and isolating one, something you'd expect to hear while trapped in an empty room.

The second track, "Industry One," is cut from the same cloth, although Johns makes use of a recurring motif which sounds like the chomping of an overhead helicopter. It's an even more menacing composition than the last, thanks to the rumbling boulder of drone and the eerie heli-noise which becomes increasingly abstract over time.

The inauspiciously titled 26 may not seem like much at first glance - after all, it's intensely slow-moving musically, and with only 25 copies in existence, it's about as obscure as it gets. But contained on this CDR is a remarkably powerful, industrial, and alienating album that thoroughly commands the listener's attention.

travis johns' myspace

Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 2 tracks, ltd to 25 copies, distributed by the label, released 2009]