Percussionist and composer Andrew Drury rarely takes the beaten path. His catalog of appearances, while extensive, is not prolific. Instead, he spends his time teaching and exploring music and other media. Thus, it is a special treat when he releases a new recording, much less two at the same time. These offerings, due out early next year, not only are complementary of one another, but showcase Drury’s compositional intuitiveness and non-linear chops.
Content Provider is a recording of Drury’s off-and-on group of the same name, featuring Briggan Krauss and Ingrid Laubrock on dueling saxes, along with Brandon Seabrook on guitar. Drury provides the drumming and compositions. Krauss and Laubrock deliver staccato lines and drones, with Seabrook mostly in a supporting role with the occasional speed-picking and arpeggiated chords. Still, Seabrook’s tinny and aggressive playing provokes a sense of urgency that drives the other three to free-form blowouts. Alongside them, Drury stays in character by never quite doing what you would expect from a drummer. While arguably falling to the free-jazz vein, Content Provider is better categorized along with the partially-composed, partially-improvised brand of creative music that is emanating from New York. The group explores sound and texture, while creating and destroying harmonic structures.
The Drum is Drury alone with a floor tom, sheets of metal, bamboo skewers, and bells. He evokes sounds from these unconventional instruments by blowing on them, as well as through brushing, scraping, and striking. The result does not resemble a solo percussion release at all – instead it offers a post-industrial landscape with shifting walls of sound. In fact, without knowing otherwise, it would be difficult to distinguish Drury’s physical manipulations from computer-mediated electronic music. Nonetheless, perhaps because of its manual nature, The Drum sets itself apart from that genre. Either as a testament to Drury’s technical prowess, as an example of what can be done with a limited palette, or as the soundtrack to a hypothetical horror movie, The Drum is a unique and challenging effort.
Drury is kicking off 2015 with a pair of outstanding releases. If you are going to be in the New York area on February 17th, be sure to check out his release party at Roulette.