Monday, March 17, 2014

Hyperion v. Terrestrials

Drones . . . in . . . Space!


My occasional flirtations with drone music have been fairly well documented on this site. I’ve never come away with the kind of reverence for it that some people have, but I’ve also never fully dismissed it as bullshit. My internal jury is still out.

I came across two more intriguing drone records and decided to give each of them a few spins. The first is Kinit Her’s Hyperion. It snagged my attention mostly because it’s on Pesanta Urfolk, a label that endlessly fascinates me and occasionally blows me away. It also attracted me because it bears the name of a sci-fi series I read recently. (It probably is named for the work by John Keats instead, the subject of which is worth reading about.)

A casual listen to Hyperion makes it seem almost completely un-dynamic. So flat, you can’t even ascribe an anti-dynamic stance to it. But that’s deceptive, because the changes (especially in intensity and volume) are quite pronounced, but so gradual they don’t detract from that droning sensation. It also sounds very natural. Along with the flat, droning vocals, it sounds like some kind of tribal religious music of imprecise origin. While Hyperion bears the name of a planet from sci-fi, its character is earthy.

Contrasting with that is Terrestrials, named for Earth but rather spacy in comparison. It’s a collaboration between Sunn O))) and Ulver, two bands much-vaunted among metal circles but who seem to shun metal every chance they get. Where Kinit Her have an exceedingly even keel and even intentions, Sunn O))) and Ulver always seem to be building up to something. Eventually, they do, but it’s no kind of big crescendo. Toward the end of the record they add some discernible melody and vocals.

I find in favor of Kinit Her.

All in all, I can’t say I recommend either of them to anyone. This is such weird stuff. The appeal is so difficult to pin down. But the Terrestrials record feels like it’s promising more than it can deliver. Hyperion, on the other hand, lulls you into a trance state. I can see situations and moods where it would be the perfect accompaniment (maybe yoga, which Decibel claims to be metal), but I just can’t see myself choosing to listen to the Sunn O))) and Ulver collaboration ever again. Then again, the esteemed Patrick, occasional contributor to this blog, has a much higher opinion of it. So I could be wrong. I think I’ve spent this whole review trying to convince you that I must be wrong.

The Verdict:
Hyperion: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Terrestrials: 3 out of 5 stars

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