References to the drone genre have always struck me as a bit funny. For (almost) all intents and purposes, describing something as droning is hardly complimentary. It suggests a lack of imagination; a lack of creativity.
Obviously, the best drone compositions are anything but that. Certainly they are minimalist, but close listens always reveal multiple layers of beauty, just beneath the surface. It’s what noise cancelling headphones were invented for.
While Jeremy Keenan doesn’t choose to describe his new four-track recording with the D-word – he prefers ambient electroacoustic – this release does illustrate my point.
Scripts features four deeply satisfying pieces. It begins with the album’s title track, a simple ambient piece at first glance. In fact, its beatless, soothing tone masks a layer cake of overlapping sounds. Music in this genre doesn’t often inspire listeners to turn the volume knob clockwise. This one absolutely does.
“Intone” comes next. Right from the start, its pitch is more intense. There’s a tension to this work that the easy-going “Scripts” avoided. It progresses somewhat ominously, even darkly. It is the album’s most difficult piece, and its most compelling.
Track three is called “Zapffe.” The shortest piece on the album, it’s held together by the most beautifully recorded bass pulses. See my earlier reference to noise-cancelling headphones.
Finally, “We Were Supposed to Drown” is the closest thing to noise Keenan has recorded here. Despite what the title suggests, the most prominent sound is screeching metal – like a subway car making too sharp a turn or a train grinding to a halt. A bit incongruous but still compelling.
I won’t go so far as to suggest the last piece be renamed “We Were Supposed to Travel First Class.” That would be lacking in both creativity and imagination.