Five songs exploring the joys of drone

This week, 5ingles tiptoes idly through spring tulips and the wild, weird world of drone, sampling conventional and unconventional takes on the form. It is recommended that you pull the shades down, turn off other mechanical devices in your domicile, and savor the sinuous, scabrous sound of overlapping and competing timbres calibrated by musical geniuses infinitely more brilliant than you or I. 

Duane Pitre "Feel Free" from Michael Mintz on Vimeo.

5. Duane Pitre, "Feel Free" 

The Crux: Pitre's composition - a teaser for a dynamic, recently released full-length of the same name - posits the string section as therapeutic process or gathering monsoon, with wattles and daubs and light brush strokes as wrought by rosin-caked bows congealing ever-so-incrementally into a groaning, droning latticework that's the stress-evaporative equivalent of a two-hour spa soak. Which is to say that Feel Free is fast on its way to becoming for 2012 what Christina Kubisch's Magnetic Flights was for 2011, for this: the ultimate in zone-out sonics.

About the Visuals: it's not so much that modern life is rubbish, it's more that when viewed at certain angles - and when compounded with certain visual effects - modern life is cryptic

4. The-Dream, "Roc" 

The Crux: A robotized Terius Nash explains -- in no uncertain terms and with an enviable degree of tunnel vision -- how he will service you, right now, assuming that dudes chattering incessantly while knocking boots is a turn-on of yours. 

Easily the best Dream single since Love vs. Money hit the streets, "Roc" proves something I've long suspected but couldn't be sure of until now: sexing and serenading sweet young things with spare, tantalizing synths and fingersnaps and handclaps (and tastefully applied strings) is Nash's grindhouse, and as long as he holes up in that particular wheelhouse, he's golden, but when dude fucks around and starts in on haters and quarrelsome exes, it's easy to wish he'd take his ball and go home. 

About the Visuals: The-Dream's 2010 Spring Break vacation, presumably. Points off to all involved for not involving or invoking cast members from the early 1990s television series Roc or, you know, referencing State Property.

3. Mike Shiflet, "Blessed and Oppressed" 

The Crux: Shiflet is part of a small fraternity of under-40 noise-vets - see also Aaron Dilloway, Gerritt Witmer, John Wiese, Pete Swanson, among many others - whose inventiveness seemingly knows no bounds. Shivery and bleak, "Blessed and Oppressed" is a cross between cicada throb and oceanic ebb - shrill, busy, and fractal random even as it hues to a cycle of sorts, where the elements at its core swell in intensity before subsiding before flaring back up again, and again, and again. The higher frequencies here suggest intergalactic alien chatter captured via shortwave; the lower ones scuttle and scrap like lobotomized crabs and killer bees duking it own in a blacked-out terrarium. 

About the Visuals: shells presented in an endless variety of unrealistic settings as filmed by a hand-held camera. What does it even mean to put a shell on top of a Guided By Voices Under The Bushes, Under The Stars CD? I can't even guess.

2. How I Quit Crack, "Live at Albert's Haus" 

The Crux: Three years ago, if you wanted to experience the wretched tonal whirl that is How I Quit Crack, you had two options: catch Austin-based musician/performance artist Tina Forbis in a live setting or zone out on a handful of YouTube videos. Today, HIQC material is all over the damn web, an embarrassment of noise-rock riches that supplements a smattering of releases you can buy with actual money. I've gotten a lot of personal mileage and enjoyment out of "Live at Albert's Haus," which suggests the rugged recycling and redoubling of dolphin mating cries, filtered through a distortion filter, echoing through a barely functioning petroleum refinery. Translation: the ultimate spotlight dance for prom.

About the Visuals: vaguely reminiscent of Ke$ha's infamous Saturday Night Live appearance, only brooding and portent-pregnant and awesome.

1. Dead Skeleton, "Yama"

The Crux: Dogged rhythms guide this Iceland group's mendacious melodies, but their hearts are in drone: thundering, blustery, phantasmagorically polyphonic, without depth, endless, vaguely Satanic. And yet something like "Yama" - in this case there isn't really a lead vocal, it's more like a bunch of vocals are distorted and submerged - doesn't project dread so much as a kind of troglodyte-esque transcendence that hearkens back to the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club classic "Stop." 

About the Visuals: ripped off wholesale from a Tibetan road movie, seemingly, yet not entirely incongruous. Frankly, I preferred this one, which is way fucked.

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