It’s always a curiosity to me how a specific form of music affects people in such different ways. Drone, for instance, is today’s topic, and I’ve always found it stimulating and relaxing, something I could put on while digging deeply into a project that requires me to be at my peak. On the other hand, my wife can’t listen to it at all, as it makes her nervous and overly anxious. You couldn’t have two more diametrically opposing feelings about the same style of music.
That takes us to Tecumseh and their great two new releases “Violet” and “For the Night,” brought to you by Baltimore-based label Anti-Matter Records. Both efforts shine a huge amount of Sunn 0))) rays on the proceedings, and each record has been a pleasure to behold the past few weeks at work while I put together product spreadsheets. The music floats in the air, stings you with electricity, but also calms and soothes the frayed nerve endings in a way most metal does not. OK, so my wife hasn’t heard these yet, and she’s likely be driven up a wall, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. There’s a local group that holds Black Yoga classes around the Pittsburgh area (they recently were featured in Decibel and can be found here: http://blackyoga.blogspot.com), and the music from these Tecumseh albums sound like they’d be ideal for helping people branch out, find their inner peace, and make good with the chaos surrounding them.
Based out of Portland, Ore., this three-piece unit formed in 2004 and combine musicians John Krausbauer (formerly of doom metal crushers Trees); Jeremy Long, known for his electronic-based solo project Brown and his work with Hive; and Ian Hawk, whose background is in the visual arts and recently collaborated on the film “AutoPriest.” Together they create something truly cinematic and sweeping, and if your imagination can keep up with them, you’re in for a hell of a ride on these two records.
“Violet” has the most songs with three, and it opens with the shortest cut found on either record with “Final Light, Last Light,” a serving of low rumbling noise, shimmering playing, and strains that make it feel like you’re staring right into the early morning sun. Then it’s onto “Serenade for the Dead,” a 12:56-long excursion into simmering drone, slowly building sounds, and guitars that begin to give off serious energy. It feels like beams of light are royally protruding from the track’s guts, as waves of buzzing and doom fog roll out and encapsulate the entire landscape. The band keeps everything pulsating, and you might find the melodies are driling right into your head, forcing your concentration and, at the same time, opening up your consciousness to new possibilities. “Vincennes” is the closer, running 11:39, and it wafts a thick haze, melodies that are buried beneath the murk, and a sense that you are walking through a humid summer scene, with the damp air creating a film on your face. The buzzing makes it seem like you are surrounded by hungry insects looking for blood, and the churning that floods over gives you a good mental workout. The end of the song feels more threatening than everything else on here, and the track eventually fades into darkness, taking your imagination with it into the unknown.
“For the Night” is a two-track collection that runs about 20 minutes, and it starts with “Darkness Swallowing the Air,” a song that resembles its title. Drone dominates, though melodies emerge and bubble, constantly changing their complexion. This track reminds me a little bit of “Serenade” and could be its darker twin, as noise roils and bends, sounds pierce you and leave the slightest red trickle, and the cut allows itself to bleed out after making its case. It’s a really mesmerizing 11 minutes. “Great Lakes” starts with horror-style strings and a sense of eeriness, but you don’t feel like you need to jump out of the way. Instead, the music rushes the senses and makes you a curious spectator, as the track takes you along dangerous paths one should not walk, into unsettling waters, and finally toward an unassuming end that could cause you to tilt your head. You’re probably supposed to write you own mental conclusion, which allows you to be an active participant in the tale.
Yes, Tecumseh can be a little frightening at times, and that might make some wonder how that can be a relaxing, thought-provoking scene like I mentioned earlier. I guess you just have to have the right frame of mind. The darkness on these two efforts raises my awareness and my creative thought, while the waves of drone wash over me and let my mind realize it’s a mental, not physical, journey. The fact I can invest so deeply in this music is worth its existence to me, and while drone might not be for everyone, the ones who do get it will get lost inside the realms of “Violet” and “For the Night.”
For more on the band, go here: http://www.allmusic.com/artist/tecumseh-mn0001006303
To buy the albums, go here: http://anti-matterrecords.merchtable.com/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.anti-matterrecords.com/