Big City Orkestre “Drone Gnomes” 10” (2006)

10" coverBCO have been active over 30 years now during which time they have unleashed a massive amount of releases.  Unlike a lot of artists working in the same time span, and with the same pace of output, Das is continually exploring new directions.  In other words, BCO releases have a lot more variety than those of Merzbow and Muslimgauze.  Despite using the word “drone” in their title as well as being on Drone Records, it is not a drone we find on the A side.  Instead that there is a really peaceful take on gamelan with the rather silly title “Cockiness Breeds Carelessness”.  Is it possible they are taking a pot shot as the serious nature of most releases on this label?  Hard to say for sure as humor is common thread throughout the history of this band.  Anyhow, I am not clear if they are using actual gamelan instruments, or something they built to sound similar, which is quite possible and in line with the creative directions taken by the group outside the purely sonic aspects.  The rapid chiming falls together in a beautiful rhythm over a simple percussive pulse and faint notes of flute while wordless female vocals float above.  Given that seven performers are credited (Ninah Pixie, Jesse Burson, Kerri Pidnow, Peter Martin, Melissa Margolis, Mike Dringenberg, and Das), I am probably failing to tease out a few elements.  Then again, a few of those might be reserved for the second side, “Rope Coiling Log”.  This side presents a more hazy atmosphere with a dominant harmonium like drone, a slow bass pulse, a rather subtle shimmering, and some distant cavernous sounds.  These sounds mix together in a more ambient environment then the first side with less forward motion which fits the overall release title better.  It is a nice mysterious B side which works because it is a contrast with the A side.  They compliment each other as the X and Y axis, as the sides are labeled on the cover, of exploration.  One moves forward in a horizontal direction, while the other’s focus is on vertical accumulation.  “Drone Gnomes” is a further installment in Drone’s Substantia Innominata series, again pressed in an edition of 500 copies, this time on nice marbled blue vinyl.  Running about 15 minutes on each side, this is probably more of a mini-album than a single.

Drone Records – SUB-05