AMN Reviews: This Week in Drone – Ryan Wade Ruehlen, nihiti, Ghosts of Electricity

Ryan Wade Ruehlen – Tropic Of Paranoia (2022; Bandcamp)

This offering is one part drone, one part sound collage, using just a saxophone and a lot of external processing and effects. Recorded live in various locations, the instrument is clearly discernable though heavily manipulated. Echoes and looping structures overlap the sax-generated noises, including the aforementioned drones as well as squeaks, warbles, flutterings, trills, airy blasts, and percussive features. Ruehlen develops these elements into dense walls that sound as if three or four instruments are being played simultaneously. By the midpoint, the harsh and discordant noise has taken over. The last two pieces are the longest, focusing on haunting higher-pitched tones and snippets of improv.

nihiti – Sustained (2022; lo bit landscapes)

Sustained begins with echoing and pulsing layers of synth with barely-audible lightly-sequenced patterns in the background. There is an immediate similarity to Basinski’s The Disintegration Loops, albeit without the descent into static. These repetitive structures are nonetheless ominous as they shimmer, fading in and out. The second piece, Tetrachrome, is relatively short at only 9 minutes, and features hazier, fuzzier drones that manage to be both spacious and suffocating. If the Color rounds out the album with distorted vocalizations over layers of synth and e-bow.

Ghosts of Electricity – Field Recordings 2017-2021 (2022; Dub Chthonic)

Ghosts of Electricity is Michael Plater (keyboards, synths, organ, harmonium, bells, sound effects, and manipulations) and Dean Richards (guitar loops, bass, sound effects, and electronics). With help from a pianist and a violinist, this compilation covers the last several years of their collaborations. The album does not start out strictly in the drone space and instead features guitar and piano. But, by the second track we are presented with long-held tones and a spacious vibe. Further tracks explore the latter direction, with soft reverberations and bells generating a disquiet, as well as brighter, almost washed-out palettes along with wistful violin. As the album progresses, it attains more and more of a cinematic character.