Cast of Mind / Lines: drone music duo from Hallow Ground

Two recent recordings of drone music arrived at The Sound Projector from Hallow Ground, a label based in Lucerne, in central Switzerland, serving as a forum for music and visual projects by various performance artists and what the label calls “idealists” and “individualists”. Both are quite short works and if you’re so minded, you could hear them both, one after the other, in a single setting.

Kali Malone, Cast of Mind, Switzerland, Hallow Ground HG1803 vinyl (2018)

Based in Stockholm since 2012, American artist Kali Malone composes minimalist droning music on her Buchla 200 synthesiser together with other musicians playing various woodwind musicians and trombone. Here she offers four instrumental pieces whose deep droning textures unwind steadily if very slowly. While the tracks are not especially long – the longest stops short of thirteen minutes in length – and the album can be heard in one sitting, the minimalist style and the tracks’ sedate nature make them appear much, much longer than they really are. Probably the most interesting and varied track is the bristling lite-noise UFO launchpad repetition loop “Arched in Hysteria” – at least you have plenty of time to prepare the underground bunker before those extraterrestrial spaceships arrive in soporific style. “Empty the Belief” is a glowingly rich and radiant piece of jewelled tone that rolls out like a welcoming platform for those interstellar travellers.

Distant Animals, Lines, Switzerland, Hallow Ground HG1804 vinyl (2018)

The project of English sound, video and performance artist Daniel Alexander Hignell, Distant Animals has sometimes worked in collaboration with other musicians, visual artists and even theologians, lawyers and political activists – but here on “Lines”, Hignell works alone with the notion of drone as a structure and foundation for music composition, a portal to contemplation, concentration and perhaps even spiritual enlightenment, and a way of engaging with listeners. The first track, “Pure Drone”, may be no more and no less just that but the track does concentrate the mind and leads it into various worlds called up by past associations: a plane flying in the distance, a lawnmower, vibrations felt from a distant jackhammer perhaps. Despite being very loud, the track is very serene and placid. It continues into “Line Made By Walking”, a more sinister and active droning piece featuring a tapestry of sound patterns, liquid electrical licks, industrial noise textures and tones, and lots of gritty crumbling noise texture, all coming one after the other in a manner that, to be honest, seems a bit lacklustre.

Perhaps not the most titanic twosome I’ve come across but these recordings, modest as they are, bear listening if you can spare the time and the patience. They may probably be most effective as sources of samples for DJs wanting to update their libraries. Of the two recordings, Kali Malone’s album seems to reach out to the listener more, the artist giving the impression that she has considered what effect her work might have on listeners and how it might engage with them in spite of its minimal droning nature.

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