The name is either genius, or it is the band name equivalent of hanging your genitalia in amongst a fruit bowl full of exotic, tropical fruits and offering them to your monkey relatives (it’s not a good idea — even at Christmas time when you and your genitalia are full of Yuletide joy). Drone, as their title suggests, are a repetition-based act and heavily rely on some nifty sounds, whooshes, whizzes, whipcracks and various other mechanical guffaws to make a layer cake of LEDs and robotic mice heads. Or if you are trained in the art of post-electronica and know Boards of Canada and the such like, then this sort of thing will be taken all in your stride.
After the tranquil and liquid ‘Waterlillies’ comes ‘Bellydance’, a strange cut-and-splice of sounds with jungle beats whacked in over the top and an electronic mismatch that generally goes on for too long to be interesting or plausible, unless you are of course using it with complimentary drugs, motion picture or post-modernistic art jibberish. In fact, this wavering into — dare we say it? — trance territory seems to be the overriding theme of the eleven track debut from the man called Drone. But the problem is that too many of the songs (‘Spiderhead’, ‘Ninny’, ‘Etherheart’ and, well, the other eight) all seem to flitter about like a pointless piece of fluff in a glass cube, displayed in the Tate Modern and admired by a group of naked men wearing large hats that are in fact an additional, living part of the display. Get this image in your head… See how interpretive and yet how downright dunce this is. Colour for Money could be construed as being along these lines, with very clever outsets and ambition that are driven forth with multi-layered effects, drum loops and ambient, resonating sounds, but then it could equally be seen as a bunch of noises parping and guffing at rhythmical intermissions if you aren’t in the mood for some background richness. It really depends on how open you are for meditation and for letting go of The Rules for music and enjoying just the sounds and random clunks and fizzes of a machine being manipulated by a guy with the know-how…
(Yes, that’s right. I was one of those men at the Tate display.)
It will be for those art students, those in graphic design that want an instrumental accompaniment to their display; the modern-dweller in the high class city that wants mechanical sounds to their mechanical life. There are loads of acts out there that do this sort of genius with computers and it must be said that Drone do it as well — if not better. But it will always be something for the distant memory of your brain while it tackles something else at the same time. The listener will be unlikely to ever say, ‘Hmm, I wonder where that Drone CD is? I really want to sit down and listen to that and do nothing else’ but there are, equally, some real shining moments, such as the brilliantly dark ‘Cutting Teeth’, that edges back to a typical song layout, with vocals, verses, choruses and everything, leaving you with the impression that album wasn’t really a guy faffing about in his room alone, but was something carefully orchestrated and prepared.