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When I think of melodic drone music, the first thing that comes to mind is Golden Retriever. It’s one of those albums that I just keep going back to, regardless of my musical obsession at the moment. My bandmate Adrien recently said that drone music is musique qu’on ecoute quand on fait l’amour. I believe this record perfectly illustrates what a romantic French guy calls music for making love.
Golden Retriever is perhaps one of the last great releases from the myriads of neo-drone new-age infused psychedelic music of 2005-2010ish. There was definitely a heavy revival of drone music, a so-called golden age of neo hippies that peaked around 2009.
Between the synthesizer based experiments of projects such as Emeralds, Skaters, Dolphins into the Future, Ben Vida, the guitar drones and resonant frequencies of Grouper, Stefano Pilia or Aidan Baker to Dreamcolour, Heavy Eye of the Sun, Date Palms or Jooklo Duo incorporating unexpected instruments into the mix, the drone scene was thriving. While most of these groups are still active, I believe their style has shifted towards more abstract, EAI-based structures rather than hypnotic cosmic jams.
Golden Retriever was one of those debut releases that instantly blew the Internet away. Based out of Portland Oregon, Matt Carlson on synthesizer and Jonathan Sielaff on bass clarinet have created a unique combination of organic melodies and out-there interstellar vibrations. The record sounds like a multi-faceted fractal ascent into hyperspace illuminated by the echoes of melting galaxies. False Entry, the opening title, probably has the catchiest phrase since Dragging A Dead Dear Up A Hill. It is a melody you actually get stuck in your head for days that keeps popping up every time you may think of this album.
The entire album is constructed along hauntingly repetitive patterns, interwoven in a strange melodic dance. The way they evolve and build on each other creates a rich sonic soundscape, speckled with fragments of interjecting modular synthesis. What I find so extraordinary about this release is the delicate balance between composition and improvisation, leaning on repetition in manner tributary to free jazz rather than minimalist music. However, it manages to maintain the soothing qualities of new age while exploring the adventurous, dissonant side of the improvisational spectrum.
Unlike my friends, I’m not a great fan of overly abstract, noisy experimental music. Golden Retriever finds that delicate balance between John Butcher fans, La Monte Young and people playing The Disintegration Loops on repeat, yet having an almost pop, uplifting quality.
This is a really beautiful record, infused with a certain sense of wonder that somehow got muddled on their further releases. I can’t promise this might lead to any baby-making, but it will sure make for an interesting (imaginary) foreplay.
Tracklist:1. False Entry
2. Moments Receding
3. Canonic Horizon
5. Modal Cloud