Who was your introduction to drone? Do you remember? I can’t quite remember mine, even though it wasn’t that long ago the whirlwind that has been Resounding Footsteps kind of muddles the timeline of who and when but I can say with absolute certainty who my introduction to lowercase drone was: Dronny Darko. And what a glorious introduction it was! Lowercase drone, in case you’re like me and have/had no idea what the hell that is, is drone that amplifies the almost unheard sounds that happen in silence. Contrary to that definition there is not a lot of silence in lowercase drone, or at least with Dronny Darko, in fact it can be called pretty chaotic. Spira Igneus, Dronny Darko’s third release, is nothing short of brilliance. But what makes it so?
Spira Igneus, if my Latin serves me means roughly “Coil of Fire,” is a maelstrom of sound and fury. To continue that Shakespearean metaphor, what does that signify? What is the message, the journey within the album? What are we, the listeners, supposed to make of this coil of fire? It’s not a cosmic journey, at least that’s not what I got out of it, but it is a journey through space. Since it’s a lowercase drone album, I thought about looking at the album as though it was the symphony of the molecules. Spira Igneus is the sound of the microcosm, finally give a voice.
What does the microcosm sound like? One word. Reverb. Reverb for days; reverb that will rip the flesh right off your bones; reverb that hits you again and again and again. Dronny Darko plays the reverb like it’s an actual instrument, constructing riffs and melodies that are so slow Sunn0))) would be jealous. In all seriousness though, Dronny Darko knows how to manipulate that sounds that we can barely here on a daily basis, he knows how to orchestrate the various sounds, bleeps, and buzzes into a coherent form that quite frankly leaves me mystified. I can’t say enough good things about this album and the sound that it produces. It evokes images of vast emptinesses broken up only occasionally by little bleeps of matter and reality. This is the true sound of silence. Dronny Darko has captured something on this album that defies logic and reason. In my right mind I would never have thought that something like this could exist, let alone be staggeringly good, but listening to all that I do doesn’t really leave me in my right mind does it?
You have to be a little mad to be able to listen to drone and find something worthwhile in it. A layman (read pleb in my humorous elitism) would hear nothing but noise and wonder why anyone would bother to create, let alone listen, to this. I’ll tell you why I do. I listen because even in nonmusical sound, there is a story, there is something to discern, dissect, and discover: the very nature of what I do on Resounding Footsteps. So what is the point of Spira Igneus? What is Dronny Darko telling us?
He is giving us a wonderful dichotomy (I do so love those) between waking and unconsciousness. I’m not talking about awake versus asleep or unconscious versus conscious. Those are obvious parallels, they’ve been researched and analyzed to death. But waking versus unconsciousness, that’s something new. Something original. Half of the album sounds as though it’s a dream sequence in its final moments, the point where we are neither awake nor asleep. Dronny Darko slowed down that moment in time with his drones and his distortions to highlight that moment. But why? What’s in that moment that is worth thinking about? That is the moment where the boundary between existing and not existing takes place. In physics terms its Schrödinger’s Cat.
What is waking? What is unconsciousness? Are they states of being or states of awareness? Which is more aware? What do we see in the waking hours that we don’t see in the unconscious? What do we see in the unconscious that we cannot see in the waking? What do we hear? Feel? What experiences do we obtain from these that shape us?
Think about these questions as you listen. Spira Igneus is a personal journey, it’s a pathway to the void. What is the void? It’s the existence of everything and nothing. Spira Igneus is the pathway to paradox. It’s confounding in its simplicity and its complexity. Truly, this will be looked upon later as one of the classic albums of dark ambient, I have no doubt at all. Another thing I loved about the album was that all the songs were cut exactly at the minute mark. To my slightly OCD brain that was a delight (half the time I’m listening to something I try to line up the seconds and find some to throw away so that the album ends at the minute, I know it’s kind of weird but whatever).
Spira Igneus, the coil of fire. Whatever journey it takes you on, I can assure you that it will be a worthwhile journey. A journey that lends you to the brink of existence. Dronny Darko is a master of his craft and this is another gem in his crown. He is the sculptor, the genius, the mastermind behind the curtain, he is one of dark ambient’s very best and this album proves that. If you need an introduction to drone, this is the album to do it. Close your eyes and leap. What will you find once you land?
Listen and support!