A good drone is like a rare whiskey. It’s harsh yet smooth, not many people will be able to find it, let alone appreciate it, and many people can’t handle the strength of the vintage. Drone is never going to be “mainstream” nor is even going to be a popular genre. Like whiskey, it has its niche and doesn’t really need to expand into the mundane world of normality. Drone is meant to be a fringe, and it will remain so forever. It will gain followers over time, certain albums will be sought after like as if they were crafted by gods themselves and others will only exist as legends. Where does Anemone Tube fall in that spectrum? It’s by no coincidence that I’m talking about whiskey and will continue to compare this latest album to whiskey. With an album title like In the Vortex of Dionysian Reality, how could I not make a reference to the most legendary spirit of all: Dionysos Bromios Blend?
The question likely on your mind, or questions for that matter, is, first, what hell is Dionysos Bromios Blend. The answer to that is easy. According to many sources, it’s the god of all whiskey blends, a legend, a myth of whiskey purity that exists not in a brand but in the plain, unmarked bottle. The second question likely on your mind is, does this album by Anemone Tube measure up to that comparison? The short answer is likely not. I wasn’t directly comparing the two but I don’t believe In the Vortex of Dionysian Reality is the mythical blend people are searching for. It may well be, however, a step in the journey to finding the elusive dream. Certainly it’s good, a grand gesture of distortions layered atone recordings with lowercase drone sitting as the foundation. While it’s not of mythical status, yet at least, and who I am to say that it’s not, I’m not a drone sommelier yet.
Continuing the alcohol analogy, Anemone Tube has a pretty good lineage, hailing from Deutschland and employing the likes of Monocube to create a very favorable stock. Even before you listen to the album proper, you can look at the product and see that it has a good body and a good head on its shoulders. Anemone Tube is not a jumpstart looking to wedge itself into the place of giants. It’s not mentioned with the likes of Nordvargr, Apocryphos, or Drony Darko yet but it will be. I believe Anemone Tube, from their pedigree alone will be something sought after by collectors.
Now onto the meat of this analysis. The music itself. Is the music as good as the packaging? Is it as good as I’ve been led to believe? In a word, yes. It is well worth it. It’s not a straightforward drone album. Drone might be the underlying element in all the songs and the glue of the album but that does restrict it to just being a drone album. Reality is truly distorted in this album not just in an analytical sense. Anemone Tube takes speaking parts and field recordings and distorts the sound so much that the listener cannot tell what they were originally. They aren’t meant to understand what they were, but what they are now. Just as wheat and barley are transformed into something completely and totally different, so too the sounds of In the Vortex are completely altered. They range in frequency from ear piercingly shrill to utterly low, nearly out of hearing range. There are times, blessed moments of peace that we get pure recordings of the human voice, speaking in what sounds to me to be French (but don’t hold that as accurate). The sounds are all wonderful, they’re diverse, adding myriad notes of hyperreality to the album. Blending ear splitting drone with urban field recordings is crazy and it’s fun to listen to.
Let’s look at the meaning of the album a little now, specifically the title of the album. In the Vortex of Dionysian Reality is a clear reference, at least to me, to everyone’s favorite German philosopher, Freidrich Nietzsche himself. There was a dichotomy that he saw in the two sons of Zeus, Apollo and Dionysus. Apollo was the reasonable one, the rational one while Dionysus was the passionate, irrational, chaotic one. They aren’t rivals or mirrors but rather two halves of the human soul. In the Vortex of Dionysian Reality is a look at the pure and utter chaos we would have if we only appeased the drunken, maddening Dionysian side of our human nature. There is passion in the album, passion and vibrancy but little order or substance. Each song, each melody jumps around chaotically from one to the next without warning. The frequency of the drones hops around like maddened frogs being boiled. There is true beauty here, in the wilderness of Dionysian Reality but the message of the album is not just “this is awesome!” it’s also “this miasma is not sustainable.” Apollonian authoritarianism is harmful to the soul, as we should all be aware, but even in chaos there has to be order. This album follows that line of thought all the way through to the end of the song “Suicide Fantasy (Negation of the Myth II)” and shows us in the frantic, manic way this album loves to, what lies at the end of the Dionysian vortex. Is it a bad thing? Well we’d have to ask a few psychologists and maybe Nietzsche himself about that but for me, I don’t necessarily think so. It’s tragic, to be sure, but does that make it inherently negative? The final track, a mammoth ten-minute opus, nearly void of drone itself, seems to suggest that maybe it is. The song is somber, slow, and menacing, a direct contrast to the rest of the album that is manic in its speed and inconsistent nature. The album is fickle and flighty until the last song and it’s as though the song as meant for a different album I would think that, if I didn’t understand the message of the album up to that point though. Also, the last song is the song that utilizing the skills of Monocube who is well known for very slowly paced, ritualistic sounds and distortions. The last song is a solemn, realism heavy answer to the frivolity of the rest of the album. It’s the other side of the coin. The Apollonian reason.
The album’s structure is very different from what you are used to. In my yearlong journey into this genre, I haven’t encountered an album structured quite like this. I’ve encountered albums that have a musical structure that is similar to classical., but none that almost directly mirror a certain style. I’m a huge Wagner fan (how cliché of me, I know) and as Nietzsche and Wagner were at one point in their lives very close friends, I think this album was created with a Wagnerian musical structure and Nietzschean philosophy to be the ultimate blending of the two. Don’t believe, though, that those two masterminds were the only people on the mind of the creator of this vintage. There’s a very post black metal feel as well, despite having no metal to speaking of, black or otherwise. If I were to call it something, and this might be a very, very large stretch that makes me look idiotic, I would call it dronegaze. It’s built with so many different tonal changes and distortions that no matter what you choose to get out of it, musically or aesthetically, you will be able to experience something unique. That’s all we can ask of music right? No matter the genre, if the music experience is unique, then it is worth the price of admission, so to speak. Anemone Tube and the fledgling Blossoming Fern Records putting this album are on the right track. The distillery is open! Drink your fill!
Highlights: Perfect Dream, Perpetual Dawn, Suicide Fantasy (Negation of Myth II)
If you enjoyed this album try: Monocube, Valanx, Dronny Darko
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