PP – Drone for the Autumn

Posted: 1 March 2022 in Albums
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Dret Skivor – 4th March 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Swedish DIY microlabel Dret Skivor continue their steady programme of a release a month – and while the number of physical copies of releases are minuscule, it makes for a sustainable model, and those who obtain them have a bona fide rarity. The noise scene loves this kind of thing, but then, so does the market of the arts more broadly: limited editions are certainly nothing new as a selling point, but here it’s also a practical consideration.

Consequently, Dret 13, Fern’s Illustration of Sound Waves, which was released early February, is sold out now in physical format – but then there were only eight cassettes dubbed, so it’s hardly surprising.

Dret 14 sees Claus Poulsen and Dave Procter reunited once again, with experimental duo PP creating sound both indoors and outdoors last autumn to celebrate the imminent onset of winter. Being in Sweden, they have proper winters worthy of celebration. The release features two versions of ‘Drone for Autumn’ – a studio and a live take, with the latter being edited to 14:49 to fit on one side of a C30 cassette. It’s a nice detail for trainspotters (and as someone who has obsessively collected ‘versions’ from back when multiple formats was the cash-cow of choice for record labels, I consider myself among them).

It’s droney, alright. It’s a thick, quivering, mid-range oscillation that shudders away at the heart of the composition, and it rings out solidly on the studio version, while murky wisps and whirls and vaporous incidentals intersect and bisect the continuous stream of rough-edged sound. It creates a certain tension, but mostly, it creates a rich atmosphere: not overtly dark, but more shadowy, twilit. The drone wheezes on and on. Stars shoot across the darkening sky – or are they lasers or satellites falling out of orbit? There is some loose semblance of linearity, through a succession of, if not specifically crescendos, then swells and ebbs, and the arrival of a grinding organ amidst the whistling winds adds further texture. It may not evoke any specific seasonality, but in adhering to a core drone and building around it, P and P imbue the work with a bleak monotony that reflects the slow passage of time.

The live ‘version’ is less a performance of the same piece and more of a further exploration of a theme, starting with a looped vocal snippet that fades into a slow, rolling electric piano. The notes decay into crackle and there’s much more by way of extraneous noise, distant radios and chatter and rumbling here – not to mention the absence of that central continuous drone that defines and dominates the studio piece. With so many random sounds fading in and out, it’s more or less a cut-up / collage piece (some well-known 80s tunes drift through before being swallowed by a churning noise like a toilet flushing), and it’s quite bewildering in its effect on the senses and general orientation. There’s even some gentle acoustic folk guitar near the end. It’s hard to draw anything solid from it, or even really define the experience, but as an experimental electroacoustic work, it’s nicely done, with a clear sense that the artists are revelling in the process of working together to draw this array of source materials together, and it works well.

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