Starving Weirdos - "Pagan Unity Ritual" (Into an Energy)
Brian Pyle and Merrick McKinlay, operating from the hippie idyll of Californiaís northern Humboldt county, have established a solid presence through their carefully constructed worlds of drone. Their latest CD outing, Into an Energy, adds in collaborators Steve Lazar and Greg Devaney, though the four participants still keep things relatively mellow.
While thereís a wide range of instruments utilized here -- guitar, flute, percussion, synths, horns, violin, clarinet, and even ocarina -- itís not uncommon for the sound to blend sufficiently that no specific instrument is identifiable. The results arenít at all noisy, but this certainly isnít new age music either. Titles like "Pagan Unity Ritual" instantly bring to mind rather unsavory pictures of hippy drum circles, which are thankfully banished by the edgy layers of sound and frankly atonal mix of drones. Nonetheless, this is earthy stuff that almost basks in a feeling of mysticism, like experimental artists aiming at covering Alice Coltrane. The handmade instruments and deep drones of Voice of Eye are perhaps the closest relations.
Best listened to late at night, songs like "Everything Glass" can conjure enjoyably uneasy tensions despite the seemingly gentle sounds. "Walking Towards Perfection" might have instead been titled "Watching a Creepy Movie" since thatís what itís like. Other pieces summon thoughts of oceanic tides and barren glacial vistas.
Into an Energy manages to straddle pure drone and collage, ambient and experimental, and winds up being neither boring nor annoying, just consistently interesting.