Different Shades of Drone
As you might expect from a project that offers song titles such as, “Temporal, Eponymous” and “Circumstances of Faith,” as well as being the soundtrack from the mind bending film Kairos, this production by a triad of musical forces (Oren Ambarchi, Stephen O’Malley and Randall Dunn) offers some hypnotically powerful tracks of focused drumming and drone guitar.
Having all three spent time within the circle of legendary drone metal band Sunn O))), one might expect the music here to be a little more doom-stricken, when in fact the compositions feel looser and more reflexive. Mind you, nothing here is a a barrel of sunshine either, but in comparison, Shade Themes from Kairos feels more like a meditation than a trudge. The focused pounding of “Temporal, Eponymous” with its blast of crushing arctic blast of drone guitar display this perfectly, which sets the scene nicely for the sublime addition of strings toward the end of the track.
Still, though the music is consistently interesting, there are some moments that seem on the lesser end of the looseness spectrum. “Sometimes,” despite featuring a lovely female vocal line and delicately plucked acoustic guitar lines, isn’t quite the sum of its parts, as there doesn’t seem to be any sort of overriding arc that ties this admittedly nice elements together. It’s a track that had certain potential, but comes off as less affecting than the other tracks here.
Even so, with something like the show-stopping closer—and excellently titled– “Ebony Pagoda,” which is basically a symphony of interwoven drone guitar parts, these three showcase a way to utilize a small palette to paint a beautiful expanse of smoky colors. And the track (along with the spooky “Circumstances of Faith”) also seems to serve the best example of how the music here is not the music of momentum or tension, but of permanence. And in that regard, the three musicians carried out the plan expertly.