Droning On: Experimental, Intense, Emotional Trips Were a Long, Welcome Distraction This Year

2016 in Lists

Nonotak perform at FORMS Festival

BY Tom BeedhamPublished Dec 9, 2016

Far from the mainstream pop anthems and talking head newscasts, drone music is marked by fluid, minimal sounds that stretch out endlessly, interrupting the cluttered, distracting noise of life, inviting us along for deep, communal listening. Here were five signs of the rise of drone activity in your area.

1. Canada's Drone Day Goes International
Founded as an anti-capitalist, community holiday, Canada's third annual Drone Day was observed in every province and territory, while international celebrations took place in Bulgaria, England, Germany and Latvia. Toronto celebrated with a live Drone Therapy event, where attendees talked through mental health issues.

2. Tim Hecker
With Love Streams, Tim Hecker presented a genre-defiant reckoning — and one of the best albums of the year. Reinterpreting works by renaissance composer Josquin des Prez with new contributions from some familiar collaborators, instead of his signature fog, it's a heavily scrambled collection chopping choral vocals and woodwinds into arpeggiated blips.

3. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith
In Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, we found a fresh voice in New Age wonder. After issuing EARS, a fascinating full-length debut that married organic and synthetic sounds, she teamed up with pioneering electronic musician Suzanne Ciani for an impressive trio of lengthy meditations, Sunergy.

4. 24-Hour Drone
In Upstate New York, former railway wheel foundry-cum-performance art space Basilica Hudson held its second annual 24-Hour Drone, this year divided into four programming blocks: Invocation, Dedication, Purge and Prayer.

5. Festival Drones
Drone also took centre stage at some of Canada's most compelling festivals. At Unsound, Sunn O))) and Tim Hecker shook Toronto's abandoned Hearn Generating Station; Kara-Lis Coverdale and Jeremy Gara captivated audiences at FORMS, Red Bull Music Academy tapped into most of the above at a showcase titled "Drone Activity in Progress," and X Avant brought out Egyptrixx and Pauline Oliveros.

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