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The Drones Collective

img  Tobias

It's been an unusually cold winter in the Netherlands: A sudden snow-attack floored the entire country in late November (it took me 12 hours by train to reach The Hague in a journey which would otherwise have lasted a mere 4) and despite a short break with some rays of light, the bitter frost has kicked back in. Maybe this period of sub-zero temperatures has had an effect on music as well. The new and already fifth effort by Utrecht-based project the [law-rah] collective, at least, sounds as though it was designed to fit the view of dancing flakes in front of your window while clasping your hands round a nice hot cup of fruit-flavoured tea.

While this might suggest that we're dealing with yet another dark ambient release to satisfy the minds of the bleak and desperate, "Drones for Drella" is something else. Which might be a slight surprise, because Bauke van der Wal, the one constant in the collective has actually reserved the name "Dark Ambient" for his very own webpage and because his albums have often been filed in this very category. Admittedly: His compositions are not exactly of the sort that will qualify for a summer hit, but their content is neither emptiness nor empathy for a dying world. Instead, his multi-facetted soundscapes are pulsating in many shades and their direction is changing with each album. It all started in the year 2000, with a performance in his home town and the next year, he already stormed the stage at the famous Maschinenfest in Aachen, as well as visiting the USA for two musical dates. Since then, the collective has gone from strength to strength. "1953", possibly his most remarkable release up to date, was a concept album about the desastrous flood which swept over the Netherlands in that very year, a stretched-out, dense layer of unreal drones and spoken word passages (in Dutch) by befriended artist Hiekelien van den Herik. The album was later performed in its entire length for the great Internet portal Radiodays.

"Drones for Drella" was a total of two years in the making. This time, the aim was to follow in the footsteps of Andy Warhol (already the title is a reference to the name for Warhol used by friends as well as the Lou Reed/John Cale work released in the wake of his death) and to find answers to the question what one gets, "if paint is replaced by sound". On this just under one hour long journey, van der Wal explores some of Warhols paintings, such as "Campbell's I" (and slightly less well-known ones like "Electric Chair") as well as his epic movie "Chelsea Girls" (which lasts for three hours and, according to the International Movie Data Base, consists of little more than straightforward head shots (...) of a slew of Warhol's self-created "superstars" babbling, whining, cursing, & shrieking.").

The music that has resulted from this experiment sounds warm and friendly, just as Warhol's art was never alienating or bewildering (experts may disagree with me on this one). In fact, from the few excerpts we have heard, "Drones for Drella" might well be the perfect album for this time of year, soothing you with warmth, instead of mirroring the cold outside. So put the kettle on the oven, haveĀ  a blanket ready and dive into these wonderful drones.

Homepage: [law-rah] collective
Homepage: [law-rah] collective at Ad Noiseam (check their mailorder for some excerpts)
Homepage: Hiekelien van den Herik

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