Kevin Drumm: Everything’s Going along as Usual and Then All Shit Breaks Loose.
Self Released (2014)
This guy can’t do much wrong at the moment. Following my last post, which suggested that noise had become familiar if not gentrified, I should probably highlight that Kevin Drumm is someone who continues to surprise and inspire with his sonic experiments. The dude has been crazy productive of late too. From the stunningly minimalist Trouble out on Editions Mego; to The Abyss, his seriously psychedelic and epic collaboration with Jason Lescalleet; to the atmospheric Wrong Intersection; to the abundance of self released stuff he’s posted on his Bandcamp of late. And there’s Everything’s Going along as Usual and Then All Shit Breaks Loose, which might be self released and limited to only 60 physical copies (digital copies also available on his Bandcamp page) but don’t let that fool you into thinking this is a collection of offcuts and experiments.
Everything’s Going along as Usual and Then All Shit Breaks Loose contains everything we love about Mr. Drumm in an 80 minute double CD release. The greatest thing about Kevin has always been his versatility and willingness to experiment. that strength comes to the fore on this record. We get white noise Kevin on the opening track, a multi-layered wall of hiss and static, each surface shifting in volume to create a sonic quicksand. Later, on Panoramic Carnage, he spews up a maelstrom of synths that crackle like a Tesla Coil on heat. Social Interaction is 4 minutes and 20 seconds of droning dread, followed up by 22 minutes of sea-sickness inducing sub-bass vibration on Lower. Meanwhile, the Sinking Quarrel is a shimmering example of Drumm’s experiments in ‘quietness’, and Awful Deep comes off like some sort of misdirected field recording, where tape hiss devours any natural ambience.
Despite its length, the variety on Everything’s Going along as Usual and Then All Shit Breaks Loose means it never gets boring. There are plenty of noise ‘artists’ who could learn something from this. Do yourself a favour and give Kevin a few pennies for a copy of this stunning release.
Kevin Drumm: Necro Acoustic
Pica Disk (2010)
What’s incredibly striking about the work of Kevin Drumm is the breadth of his noise. This guy tackles the whole gamut, from ear splitting frequencies to walls of noise, from sputtering Musique concrète to dense drones and ambient soundscapes. It’s all summed up nicely on Necro Acoustic, a five-disc box set spanning fifteen years of his career.
When he’s creating thick walls of static Drumm is a master at combining a range of sound and frequencies that save his concoctions from the feeble brutality of acts like Cherry Point. The closer you listen the more elements you can identify struggling to be heard in the fog, and that’s what makes his shit so engaging.
Drumm’s other card trick is balancing low-end rattle and drone alongside high pitch whirs that disorient the listener by alluding to something trance-like while piercing your ears. He does this beautifully on Spraying the Weeds (disc one), and my favourite in the Necro Acoustic box set Track 11 (disc two) which sounds like rain on tin getting into a knife fight with tinnitus.
There are plenty of delicate moments within Necro Acoustic too. Synthesised drones and buzzes that hang in the air never really going anywhere, similar to his gorgeously minimal Imperial Horizon record from a few years ago. This idea of minimalism inducing a meditative state rears its head a few times on Necro Acoustic, such as the insistent crackle of Dilemma 2 (disc three) and the digital distortion of Totemic Saturation (disc three), which builds and builds and builds…into nothing. Drumm’s interest in repetition culminates in the epic fifth disc Organ, a 54-minute ascension into a cloud of pulsating distorted organ – the longer you listen the more surreal it feels.
Necro Acoustic is only my third trip into the world of Kevin Drumm but I’m fast becoming a disciple based on his willingness to truly experiment with sound and push the limits of music. When so much noise revolves purely around being ‘extreme’ it’s awesome to hear someone who’s willing to take you on a magic carpet trip.