steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

Hourglass Drops

"Startlights in the Afternoon" CDR

Dust Wind Tales

Genre: drone, ambient, experimental


Dec 2, 2008

First off, I want to say that Dust Wind Tales is a label that knows how to make a package. This disc, along with several others, was mailed to me in a rustic orgy of amazingness, complete with elaborate packaging and goodies galore. You could say they had me at hello.

Still, what to expect from Hourglass Drops' mysterious Startlights in the Afternoon? The wizard behind the noise is a faceless twenty-something based in Holland, and his focus appears to be on atmospheric drone of the noise kind. Nineteen minute "Lost in Scape" is a prime example of the HD formula - its bass-heavy drone comes in the dark and creepy variety, almost like the creaks and groans of an arctic submarine. Think Biosphere but even more polarizing and bleak. The track reaches its devilish best when it starts mercilessly inserting sped-up sound samples to the mix, resulting in a bizarre atmosphere that's most in line with a David Cronenberg movie. Ironically, the samples themselves, though compressed to near-unintelligible form, have been culled from Austin Powers (quoth Dr. Evil, "There's nothing more pathetic than an aging hipster").

More subterranean drone comes in the form of the title-track, an eerie and unsettling work of cinematic ambiance, while "Iron and Copper" is an interesting experiment in electric hum and flux. Finally, dense yet airy "Come, We Are Going Home" must be ear-tagged as a brief highlight - though much shorter than some of the record's more developed compositions, it has a chillingly full sound that should have been more fleshed out.

Limited to a slim fifty copies, Hourglass Drops' Startlights in the Afternoon is certainly worth a look for enthusiasts of experimental drone and ambient music. Like the work of Biosphere, these tracks represent a mysterious soundscape that hits like a gust of icy air to the face. Although I find it loses its focus during the twenty minute "Iron and Copper," Startlights is a predominantly successful experimental work designed for dark nights in snowy rural fields.

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Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 6 tracks, limited to 50 copies, distributed by the label, released 2008]