Album Review

Mind Over Mirrors – Check Your Swing (Hands In The Dark, 2012)

Mind Over MirrorsSecond Nature (Hands In The Dark)

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Pure fucking bliss. Jaime Fennelly drops a full length of new material that’s ripe for mind blowing. Last year he put out one of my favorite drone records, The Voice Rolling, so naturally I had high expectations for this. Not let down in the slightest. Basically any harmonium drone record is gonna get me psyched though so I guess he’s kinda got it easy. But seriously, this dude knows how to process his harmonium and make it sing the beautiful song. Check Your Swing isn’t just more of the same though, this time Fennelly is taking a bit of a Mountains approach, where his last record was super organic, here he’s gone a bit bloopy & sci-fi while still retaining the organic feel, like some real eXistenZ type shit, lush & buzzy with rhythms a hair too slow for dancing but perfect for spacing out & soaring, dense warm washes of digital reeds soaking up the sun then hiding under a mushroom, the complete opposite of a Cylon, an electronic shell with a bio-core, a perfect hybrid. Basking in the glory of MOM’s incredible harmonium drones is the only way to spend the rest of your life, so don’t mess up by skipping out on this.

Concert Review

Cleared, Koen Holtkamp, Mind Over Mirrors At O’Brien’s

Mind Over Mirrors: set up in front of the stage facing the stage, old wooden harmonium draped with electronics, processed to the high heavens, gritty & beautiful, impossibly lush, a giant space drill boring through a star, shards of gold radiating everywhere, I wanted to bow before him and worship every moment of sound

Koen Holtkamp: somber rapid eye movement, supreme squiggle dreams, guitar and analog synth breaking through the atmosphere of transcendence, cheap cialis canada online soaring among clouds of blissful regret

Cleared (Michael Vallera & Steven Hess): guitar/drums/electronics duo, walking the line of peace & disgust, would be nice at home on Enemies List, sludgy gloom pop back to back with black ambient industrial drones, creaks and crackles, pounding new wave stutters, grand upon grand

Update: Mind Over Mirrors & Koen Holtkamp sets already streaming over at Spectral Rehab’s Soundcloud.

Mind Over Mirrors

Koen Holtkamp


Top 10 Drone Records Of 2011

This year’s list was too damn hard. There was just so much awesomeness, it was almost impossible to keep it to 10. That’s just how lists are, I guess.

Since this is an AGB list and AGB = me, I allowed myself the freedom that an indie blogger should have. Namely, defining “drone” however I damn well please. However, I still had some criteria. If a record had some songs that were hardly drone at all, but still embodied the drone aesthetic as a whole, I kept it. There were plenty of records that I wanted to mold into the list but no matter which way I looked at it, they just couldn’t be considered “drone” (especially the new Ricardo Donoso and Colin Stetson albums).

If you’re new here, there are sound samples on all of the original reviews and I beseech you to listen to anything on this list you have yet to hear. I assure you it will be worth your time 100%. But…

On to the list! On to the heckling!

10. High Aura’dMooncusser (YDLMIER)
“Soaring Windy & Carl euphoria, brief Fahey picks, and a wall of absolute beauty.”

Boston’s killerest scene stomping dude on Boston’s raddest darned tape label.

9. Nicholas SzczepanikAnte Algo Azul (self released)
“There’s mournful Basinski textures, sci-fi tractor beams, static harmonies, Eliane Radigue homages, all wrapped in Szczepanik’s own meditative perspective.”

Technically 12 separate items but they’re all Ante Algo Azul. And the ID3 tags on the official downloads have each one as an individual track of the full 12 song “album.” So suck it. Plus, this shit is the greatest.

8. Mind Over MirrorsThe Voice Rolling (Digitalis)
“Stretched out gauze floating through pink/grey bliss, endless layers of reed textured harmonies, all of the fantastic things about harmoniums but given a new life through Fennelly.”

Harmoniums always do it for me and this is like the harmonium record to destroy all harmonium records.

7. MountainsAir Museum (Thrill Jockey)
“Mountains bounce back and forth between straight up drone and pulsing minimal space techno, keeping a nice balance, never cemented in their textured planar earthly past but not jumping ship for the OPN New Age.”

Always keepin me on my toes. Mountains took it to the next motherfuckin level on this one.

6. EmuulThe Drawing Of The line (Digitalis)
“Blurred & blown out drones that breathe heavy, swaying in the breeze, scorched at the edges.”

Sad n blissful. Zen x100.

5. RaleSome Kissed Charms That Would Not Protect Them (Isounderscore)
“…a heaving sweetheart, giving you massive swells of dense intimidation… conjuring images of watching a thunderstorm roll in on the beach… enjoying it without fear and wallowing in the glory of the lightening sky, the majesty of nature beautifully overwhelming.”

Rale fucking nailed it on this one. And no one knows about it! Only 300 copies made, came out in May, and it’s still available. What’s wrong with you people! This is truly original and has AMAZING packaging.

4. Lawrence EnglishThe Peregrine (Experimedia)
“Like the finest grade sandpaper, with a tooth so smooth, the grit almost disappears and you’re left with drone as glorious as humanly possible.”

Didn’t think Mr. English could make something more satisfying than Kiri No Oto but goddammit he sure did. Unreal.

3. Kyle Bobby DunnWays Of Meaning (Desire Path)
“This is the most delicate bliss I’ve ever experienced. 100% shining purity that doesn’t need to be cranked to 11 to get the job done. It swirls softly & effortlessly turns hearts into puddles of droney delight.”

First of all, KBD on vinyl? YES. Then, the best KBD record yet? Also, YES. It has one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard on it, too. It’s just math, you guys. Of course this is on the list.

2. Andrew Weathers EnsembleWe’re Not Cautious (Sleep On The Floor)
“It’s unbelievably warm, so rich & soft, tender & charming, absolutely beautiful in every way. It can be played at full volume and it won’t overpower, it’ll simply fill your home with the most delicately lush sounds you can imagine.”

Probably the least droney record on this list but it’s got enough to break into the official “Drone” category for me. Either way, this is literally one of the best records I’ve ever heard.

1. Nicholas SzczepanikPlease Stop Loving Me (Streamline)
“As wonderfully serene as it is, the whole time you’re wading waist deep in emotion, the sustained & intertwined tones heavy hearted, cascading heartache, longing, and hope. An elegiac softness matched with poignant massiveness that ends on the brightest, most uplifting note, fading into the horizon.”

This is the one. The best record of the year. Hands down. No contest. One of the best records of all time, in fact. I shit you not. As the kids say these days, unimpeachable. Or is it unfuckwithable? Lets just go with the universally understood: PERFECT.

Album Review

Mind Over Mirrors – The Voice Rolling (Digitalis, 2011)

Mind Over MirrorsRound, Around

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There are some instruments that I instantly go weak for. And then when there are records made with only one of those instruments, I tend to lose. my. SHIT. Nathan Bell’s echoey banjo pluckin @2640, for example, or the one off OrganOrganOrganOrgan. Awesome stuff. Now here comes The Voice Rolling, an all harmonium record that, even better, is the craziest harmonium record ever.

Mind Over Mirrors (solo project of Jaime Fennelly of Peeesseye, Acid Birds, etc) takes a harmonium and fucks it up with all sorts of pedals & FX, making it droooooone in the most beautiful way possible. You think harmoniums are naturally good-lookin? Just wait and see what Fennelly does with ’em. Stretched out gauze floating through pink/grey bliss, endless layers of reed textured harmonies, all of the fantastic things about harmoniums but given a new life through Fennelly.

On “You Ain’t Reeling” he pounds out a Zomes like techno loop with a chopped up beat that could get your Blade Runner dance mix up and running, the nearly 12 minute long “Point Hammond” takes a toasted feedback sound and psychs it up into a mournful slow burner, like some lost guitar in a vast sea of golden mist, stuck in a static wasteland dirge, rummaging through bottled up gloom, “Coaling” is a deep thunder rumble, rupturing black smoke and tearing holes in the sunny sky, “Round, Around” is a peppy pop tune, panning and waving a subdued rager, glistening in the pulsing wash, but all of this is is just child’s play when compared to the real action on the expansive “Barely Spun” which again takes a loopy beat driven approach, a warped Giffoni-esque acid synth jam on ecstasy steroids, building into a heavenly grit so monolithic it’ll blind you to the fact that you just creamed your pants.

The amount of pleasure I get from listening to The Voice Rolling is almost incalculable. Fucking free reeds, man. They just do it. They make the drone that is the ESSENTIAL drone. And when they’re put in the masterful hands of someone like Fennelly who can make them do whatever the hell he wants, the result is a record that’s pure fucking bliss. Best of all, it’s getting the vinyl treatment very soon thanks to Digitalis.