Blending haunting atmospherics with percussive elements and spatial experimentation, Norwegian experimental/drone collective Kobi are here with their second release, Dronesyndrome. Shunning many of the ideas and restrictions associated with traditional formal musicality, the group, fronted by Kai Mikalsen, combine processed loops of electronic origin with found sounds and more organic instrumentation, also heavily processed. The album's nine tracks, adding up to over 50 minutes, flow together to form one long, cohesive piece.
Most of the tracks here, while instrumentally and sonically separate, carry a similar, almost tangible watery quality and share a similar broad spatial sense. Many are also commonly unsettling, dissonant organic swirls, unpredictable percussion, and familiar yet alien electronics and processed sounds/instruments providing a dark and eerie framework. "Faint Echoes Ran Round the Unseen Hall (Part 1)" is an appropriate introduction, heavily percussive albeit random, uneasy sonic swells bubbling up into a dark, lush sound. A heartbeat-like background loop provides the percussive drive for "Coined and Put Into Circulation" before its low-key ambience evolves into a spatially wider, less coherent blend of ambience and noise.
"Yellow Scales Slid Across Oily Rolls of Flushed Skin", on the other hand, is one of the disc's sparser, more noise-oriented offerings, an eight-and-a-half minute blend of processed electronic squeals and underlying, ever-changing percussion anchored by minimal low-pitched sounds. The following "Interspersed with Semi-Conscious Moments", even longer at nearly eleven minutes, continues in a similar noise-oriented fashion, replacing the electronic squeals of the former with more organic percussive and metallic sounds and, eventually, disconcerting string drones.
"Anchored to a Central Core of Saturated Intensity", the shortest track here, is also one of the most disturbing, a primal drone beneath a steady, reverb-drenched seemingly pre-recorded spoken word passage and strong spatial atmospherics. "The Evening was Unusually Sultry and Heavy", another rather impressive track, continues the drone of the former but throws in moody, melodic guitar and increasing strong distortion and noise elements as the track slowly folds in upon itself. An oddly mesmerizing spoken text about the coming of spring and the hunting and fishing traditions of a native population comes to the forefront on "This Inclusion is Not a Simple Operation". Its layered drones and watery noise fade into the background and grow into "The Existence of Another Goal" as the text loops and fades. The closing "Such Variations Will Be Encountered Again" returns to minimalism and noise, random string notes and scrapes atop percussive noise and subtle loops.
Both sonically interesting and emotionally effective, Kobi's Dronesyndrome is a rather compelling work. While its appeal may be largely limited to those with more experimental tastes, its haunting, uneasy soundscapes and cold, watery, unsettling atmospherics are oddly mesmerizing and powerful. Those interested in the darker side of drone shouldn't miss this one.
Silber Records website: www.silbermedia.com
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