I’m getting a lot of drone music in my musical diet lately, but I expect it’s mainly because of the economic climate and political situation. One the face of it, it might seem too easy for two improvising musicians to hunker down in a studio and emit long-form tones at each other for their next six-CD box set, but it’s a musical form which requires some discipline and skill to get right, or the results can be boring as a stale milkshake from Denbigh. One thing that helps is using “real” instruments, by which I mean anything that isn’t created by a laptop or a digital workstation.
Step forward Gareth Davis, the clarinet player who creaks like an early morning oak tree in the ancient time of the druids, and lent his mysterious smokey tones to records by Oiseaux-Tempête, that excessive Euro art-rock group with whom I have a stormy love-hate relationship. Indeed it was often Davis’s playing that rescued their albums when they threatened to tip over into pomposity and self-grandeur. Davis toots today on Nótt (MIDIRA RECORDS MD 076), a record he made with Duane Pitre, the American electric droner who used to play guitar in Camera Obscura before he turned his mitts towards minimal composition. This little gemuoloid from Midira Records contains 34 minutes of deep growly lushness, where the two play in tandem to generate a good toe-rattling groundswell, or else thrill the senses when Gareth trills an obligatto of grace-notes on top of a sinister purr from the American half of the act.
The title Nótt is intended as a tribute to a figure from Norse mythology, a black and swarthy figure who was the grandmother of Thor, according to the Edda which have been handed down. She rode the horse Hrimfaxi and was pretty much a nocturnal creature, indeed regarded as the night in human form. What better way to pay homage to this important myth than emitting this treacly drone which is as black as two jars of molasses and just as slow-moving. We are in fact suspended in one of those jars, which turns out to be a well 100 feet deep, and we’ll never reach the bottom of it. One the strength of this Nordic connection, I’d expect Davis and Pitre soon to be invited to guest on a record by Jotunspor or Wardruna. Very good! (08/2019)