A Thousand Fields
‘Ashes of America’ kicks off “A Thousand Fields”, its dark, dreamy drone levitating in and around the dusty, collapsed remnants of a once-chaotic city. Its proud statues are left in ruined stone, ruptured by the drone. A line of synth wavers and distorts gently, but a smoother, two-toned pattern arrives, cycling between its two notes: left, right, left, right. It has the rhythmical precision of a police siren, flashing its blue and white lights, and, like the latest recruits in the world of law enforcement, the drone tries to settle everything down. It’s successful in calming things down, but there’s always trouble bubbling underneath the surface. In this dystopian world, where control and order has long been in decline, the music prowls the lonely streets, either lost or looking for its latest prey. This city has seen better days. It might have been ravaged by a recurring plague, or a distant, yet inevitable war.
Cinematic in scope, the drones drift through the lonely world. For the most part, the drones are contemplative, but they occasionally carry a queasy, almost eerie tension that sits and stirs in the atmosphere; it’s the smell of a cold war, of a perfume from the 1940’s, once fragrant but now rotten. And these drones arrive from the cooler climes of ambient music, where the dark, empty caves become permanent dwellings. In ‘Drown Under Dream Lit Skies’, a cool drone idles and cycles. This is another two-note, recurring drone, but it ascends instead. It could almost be described as minimal, but there are subtle layers underneath — signals bleep and tiny, slithering synths echo. You wait patiently for the music to develop as it slowly rebuilds the ancient monoliths.
Together, Jason Corder (offthesky) and Bartosz Dziadosz (Pleq) craft interesting and varied drones, and it’s so smooth you’d think it was a solo artist at work. The later strings of ‘Delicate Exit’ keep the original shadows at bay while adding some comforting elegance to the cooler world, and as the record progresses, it slowly unfolds. It gradually comes out of its shell and warms its pale skin, like a cold-blooded reptile emerging into the light of the sun. The little details in the music really make this special. Sometimes, the melodies and the harmonies are not only absent but MIA, and, remarkably, the absence never creates a vacant vacuum. It leaves behind a bit more space, and that’s a welcome relief, because it cuts away at the tension. And there is always some kind of a rhythm to keep it all together.
On ‘Hell Bent Down The Ego Hole’ the drone falls into a steep, circular descent. It swirls as it falls into the spiral, and it never comes back out. The ghostly siren seems to make another appearance. It fluctuates in volume before finally disappearing into the void. But in the throes of the drama, there are softer parts to the story: an introverted drone hides a brief love story, and a solemn drone hints at a moment of reflection minutes after the last of the bullets hits the soil. The closer, ‘Wands Upon A Thousand Fields’, groans as it upholds the metallic structure of the drone. A strange choir emerges, and it would come across as angelic if it were not for the darker setting. These two artists are at home in the dark, it seems. Their music crosses continents — from North America to Europe — and together, their music rises from the ashes.