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CD Feature/ the [law-rah] collective: "Drones for Drella"

img  Tobias

Sound is the most basic building block of music – elemental and pervasive. Nine out of ten artists will regard “organising sound” as the fundamental task of composing. But when confronted with a work which truly delivers on that premise, it seems there are as many prejudices as ever. “Drones for Drella” might well be the record everyone can agree on – the first Pop-Art Drone Album.

To unravel the mystery of this – hopefully not too pretentious – category´let’s start by mentioning that its title is a direct reference to John Cale and Lou Reed, its inspiration the body of work of Andy Warhole (called “Drella” by his close friends). Expect nothing poppy or overtly catchy however – the more verbatim translation of Warhol’s philosophy is better left to Stock, Aitken and Waterman or early Dance- and Sampling records like “Pump up the Volume”. Rather, the [law-rah] collective have used his paintings as a stimulus and a spark and transferred the resulting emotion into sound. The result are five drones around the six-minute mark and a stretched-out finale of twenty minutes. The somewhat shorter pieces are all centred around a few aural elements, moving slowly and carefully changing their position against each other. Each piece has its distinct character and mood – a most powerful demonstration that drones are not uniform in nature by definition. While “Ladies and Gentlemen” and “Sex Parts” are dreamy and glistening dewdrops on the top of a shimmering leaf, other tracks are more raw and ragged. Despite the minimalist approach, the associations are plentiful and powerful – and the music seems to follow the course of the observer’s eye, travelling the canvas, standing  still to catch a detail or forging forward when excited by beauty. Thanks to it being rooted firmly in sound, this is very physical music, yet there is enough movement at all time to satisfy those with an interest in structure and development. In the closing “Chelsea Girls”, a threatening, yet delicate and continually mutating noisescape builds up on top of every-day field recordings: Water running in the sink, conversations, bicyles passing by. And it is here that Pop Art truly rears it head: Our direct environment, the things of our daily lives, they suddenly have their short moment of fame, changed by the lense of the listener.

If there is a contradiction, then this: That an album worshipping Pop Art comes in simple plain cardboard with nothing but a red stripe on its front, instead of a glossy surface, thousands of colours and speech bubbles. But then again, this probably fits the deeper approach of the album perfectly – after all, these are the most basic building blocks of packaging.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: the [law-rah] collective
Homepage: Pflichtkauf Records

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