First of all, 2016 was a terrible year for music with all the sad losses of great people. I didn’t post a lot last year because it dragged my musical self down, resulting in virtually no advance in music, be it making or listening. Anyway – this needs to change in 2017. This new album is the first step.
Drone Echoes is the first of two new releases (the second is yet to be released) which revisit the Drone Trilogy sessions. I told my dear friend Giles Jacobs (of Placement) that I had to get this album – or rather the idea behind it – off my chest. Drone Echoes is a collection of tracks out of these sessions and they basically capture the atmosphere of the whole trilogy in a stripped-down way. I tend to think that this album is as ambient as my music has been so far. This is because of focussing on what each single track has to offer.
On a side note: I never was a fan of creating ambient music myself, always wanting to add more to a track, to push it somewhere between my “home genres” electronica, progressive, drone and jazz. As much as I like other people’s ambient music – by the way, there is no way to escape Brian Eno‘s ambient music when you’re a post-70s musician in the electronic genre -, I couldn’t leave my music in that genre’s forms, always breaking out in some way. That is why there is a strong drone connection in my music, even though drone purists probably wouldn’t see it that way. It rather goes back to Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground as well as early Krautrock although I wouldn’t call any of these my key influences in general (which actually are Klaus Schulze and Emerson, Lake & Palmer – another long story…).
After listening to the album, Giles pointed out that “the tracks are actually quite different (from each other) while also all being very much part of a ‘working set'”. Certainly Drone Echoes hasn’t got the usual album atmosphere, neither is it a compilation; it is more like Bruce Springsteen‘s High Hopes or Steven Wilson‘s 4½, collections of different songs, partly reworked, with a connecting theme. This album’s theme is, in a way, the spirit of the Drone Trilogy, the long run of these sessions and the creative spark I had back then. Although some bits of the Drone DNA found their way into the Security and Insecurity albums, they are a different story after all, the results of my first years as a musician. With that being said, Drone Echoes is a way of looking back at certain aspects of some of the trilogy’s songs.
Interstellar is presented in its original version without any sequences. Some listeners call the sequenced Ghost Drones version of this track the album’s centerpiece. I don’t want to disagree, although I think that the whole album is what it’s about, not just a single song. As much as the sequences add to the initial track’s dynamics, I prefer the slowly evolving atmosphere of the original version.
Dark Waters serves as the two-part standalone intro and outro of the Chrome Dreams track Sirens On The Shore. This alternate version actually is a combination of both tracks which I wanted to use for another drone album also titled Dark Waters which eventually became Chrome Dreams.
Drone & Solo, along with Improv I and II, is a studio outtake. While the two Improvs go back many years and reveal my first ideas of experimental jazz improvisations, Drone & Solo was my first attempt at recreating Frippertronics on my Moog (and yes, I initially named it Moogertronics). While this was somehow ill-fated with just one simple delay pedal, it nevertheless works in its own way, I think. The actual solo was used for the track Neurath from Chrome Dreams.
Forest (working title: Hammond – but it wasn’t played on a Hammond organ) should have been part of the new material I’ll use for a whole new album in the future, even though the track itself is a bit older. I wanted other musicians to add some parts to this one and make it an Opeth-like song but it was Theo Tol who said: “I don’t think I can add something to that. To my ears that’s a finished track!” Well, there you go.
Ten Thirty Drone is the backbone of all the Ten Thirty songs I’ve released so far and I’m sure that this series has come to an end with the release of this drone. Similar to the On Land EP I might release a compilation of all the Ten Thirty tracks in the future.
The original version of Ripple nearly ended up on the Insecurity album although the track is much older. Back then I added Roger Palmeri‘s guitar track to the mix and thought the song was ready to go. Now it is similar to Interstellar: the original version has its own qualities.
The final Drone Echoes song is Grace For Droning (spot the reference). This was an outtake of the One Day album sessions – this (currently unavailable) album was recorded in one day for the RPM challenge in 2012. Nevertheless there was a strong connection to the Drone Trilogy because One Day was a long shot of the things to come back then. An edited version of the track was released as Dead Man on Chrome Dreams.
The second Drone album is ready but I’ll just release it later this year. It will focus on different versions of some of the Drone Trilogy songs rather than Drone Echoes with its focus on new tracks and song ideas.