Album Review: Drone – "Sticks Were Swords"

Album Review By Alex Goyetche

Drone is a “post-folk/ post-rock” outfit from Maine, currently spending some time in Halifax. This offering from March 2011 is called “Sticks were Swords”, and it gets off to a very slow and rather ambient start. Layers of acoustic guitars crisscross over one another until the rhythm section kicks in and brings the music to a calculated climax. This is essentially the format that carries the following songs on the album.

There isn’t a great deal of instrumental music on my ipod, but I’ve always said I’d like anything if it was done right. The music of the aptly dubbed “Drone” delivers what it promises. It moves along steadily and never really gives hints as to where it’s going to end up. But all the while it goes steadily on.

The album reminds me slightly of “Sean Carey”, the “Bon Iver” drummer who released his first solo record last year. It is a very calming and ambient work, which sort of just carries the listener on. This is what “Sticks were swords” does at it’s best.

However, sometimes the music can lull one out of paying attention. I found myself wishing for even minimal amounts of vocalization. Just the acoustic guitars and drums become somewhat limiting. Filling out the lower register of the music might also be of help. The twang of the guitars could be easily complimented by some strong bass.

All that said, the music of “Drone” is very pleasant to listen to. The title track swells up and down and comes very close to the audio sensory equivalent of floating on an inflatable raft in a calm lake.

The second last track, which is humorously titled, “It won’t be long now, I promise” Starts about the same as the rest of the songs, with lightly strummed guitar, flutters of violin or cello, and then some cautious drumming, but suddenly opens up with a loud burst of sound that has to be the albums only real aggressive moment. It is very nice to hear a little crunch, and revved up noise in amongst the droning.

The final track does actually begin with a human voice, which was a mirage leading me to hope a singer might make an appearance, but alas this was not the case. The second half of this track called “Like a Ship on the Rocks of our Beach” has a fairly well executed dual of two acoustic guitars hammering out complimentary arpeggios, rushing the album towards it’s finish.

So by the time it’s done, I would say that all the little hiccups and flaws can be overlooked. Because the work is indeed very interesting, and often captivating enough to keep one listening on. I would like to see “Drone” have a radical departure in the near future, something to change the very similar shape of the songs they’ve so far created. Currently working on another effort, I can only hope that the future is bright for this project.


No comments: