Drones by Midcentury Modular


Midcentury Modular | Drones
self-released (CS/DL)

Out of Raleigh NC, comes Drones the new tape from Midcentury Modular (John Mitchell) recorded between 2016-18. As a rather new artist to the scene this is his sophomore effort after Arps (earlier this year). A half-dozen new tracks that explore drone on his terms. Side one begins with sick day, and it’s exactly as advertised. A low-lying purring drone enters with slight modulation. It makes me pause a moment to consider our affinity for recreating white noise that can be found in various industries or the daily commute. Perhaps it’s the contemplative sound, one that reminds the ear of progress, of industry? The rub is the unknown.


This is a classic drone record where the chords shift and occasionally an added synth or sound effect bounces to and fro as on ocean 2.  This is an introspective take on the power and glory of the ocean, if it were left alone, unsullied by human nature, to simply glide elegantly to and away from the shore. It’s glassy surface intact, lapping at one moment and disturbed into white caps by Mother Nature the next. Mitchell captures the calmer seas.

All of the lengthier pieces are up front, so you get a good feel for how he goes the road, and it’s an atmosphere I understand having listened to countless instrumental works that bear witness to space and time in the congress of sound. However, Midcentury Modular also delivers a melancholy harmony throughout friends and last – the latter with a more sinister edge to it, and a bit more ambiguous. Concluding with rampage his vision starts to gel, and it’s not all light and airy and unconscious. There’s this anxious stylized noise, as if tuning into radio frequencies, just at the surface that helps define the yin/yang approach to sculpting drone here. Watch for this later this week.

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