The Drone Accelerator's first savage offering is described as 'an anarchic blend of space rock, free jazz, and krautrock' and surely makes a compelling listen for any hipster, tripster, or serious student of Jazz. - Written by Daniel Sharman.
Released in: 19 November 2013
Genre: Roots Psychedelia/Wilderness Rock
Record Label: Sky Lantern Records
Medium: Digital download, Cassette
Recorded at: Andean Wings Hotel (Cusco–Peru)
Comprising of past members of Anglo-Franco space-rock legends Gong, and folk-psych collective Montibus Communitas, even before listening The Drone Accelerator has some fantastic on-paper, musical credentials. Once again, this is another release discovered by the free music label, Sky Lantern Records, whom I recently interviewed (interview here) - I am currently working through their back-catalogue of fantastic releases, of sure interest to any music lover who finds themselves yearning for varied, experimental psychedelic music.
This release is The Drone Accelerator's début album, and benefits from a similarly lo-fi recording style and atmosphere, akin to that found on the band members' previous projects. Clocking in 01:07:15 minutes, the two tracks are extracted from a series of lengthy jams recorded in a 'crumbling hotel room' in Cusco, Peru, a environment which is surely reflected in the recordings themselves.
It is immediately clear upon listening to the album that the recordings featured rely heavily upon a strong sense of pace, timing, and rhythm - utilising a strong percussion section (as performed by the aforementioned past-member of Gong) to drive the wild instrumentation of the members home. Crescendos, and diminuendos are used fruitfully throughout to give texture and landscape to the seemingly minimalistic, instrumental character of the LP - the instrumental line-up consisting of fuzzed-out guitar, piercing saxophone, airy flute and keys, and thumping drumbeats and basslines. These three musical elements come together to make for a compelling wild experience, one which focuses more on fluidity, and spontaneity, than on delicate composition, and planning. The recordings are very much a capturing of pure expression and emotion, the guitar work of Paul Forsyth Tessey being very free and wild - leading me to give this release the genre title 'Wilderness Rock' - one which I have not used on the blog before (post detailing the genre to come later).
Furthermore, both jams on the album both feature their own unique quirks, making them both memorable and giving them a lasting impact. The first jam on the album, Casiopea Pai Mantra, is where the idea of this post's description comes to mind, the recording being best suited to either a hipster, tripster, or serious student of jazz. The hipster appeal is immediately apparent, but not a point I shall dwell on, hipsters having no place in the life of any true psychedelic enthusiast. Similarly, the tripster appeal is also apparent, the jam having a warm, and inviting tone, without being too abrasive to the ears. However, the most interesting point is the study for students of jazz, The Drone Accelerator giving a master class on free-jazz instrumentation - showing when to hold the musical cards close to one's chest, and when to go all in.
To divulge more into the detail of Casiopea Pai Mantra, the guitar is savage and continuous on this track, soloing over a consistent, steady rhythmic thud with a fat, distorted signal. The unrelenting beat is also given flavour by short licks and vocal lines courtesy of greasy saxophone, brilliantly complimenting the wailing guitar lead. Additionally, the unwavering nature of the percussion allows for the a slow, gradual change in pace throughout the jam at different points - all this giving structure and vibrancy to the somewhat bare-boned nature of the recording.
Moving on, the second recording of the album, Orion Pax, is more akin to the music produced by the earliest incarnations of Hawkwind. A groovy saxophone bursts onto a backdrop of chugging, tribal percussion, making you feel as if you are in a 1930's speak-easy and a Native American ceremony, simultaneously. The 39 minute epic then descends into a more jungle-esque setting, borrowing some of the far-out buzzes and organ-work reminiscent of those heard on many of Gong's records. Flute work and droning chanting also takes centre-stage at points, this jam allowing every member and instrument to have their own moment in the spotlight (make sure to listen to the end of the track as well to hear the return of the fantastic guitar work).
Critic's Comment: Tired of getting your rock music out of a can? Well, set aside a couple of hours and prepare to feast upon this lo-fi epic of a record. Excellently capturing spontaneous, and fluid instrumentation, The Drone Accelerator's début is a fantastic example of how the right musicians, in the right place, at the right time, can easily defy any convention you may of been taught, and inspire artists anywhere to express themselves no matter their circumstance.