Immerse yourself with Chase’s experimentation
With Drums and Drones: Decade, Brian Chase plunges headfirst into the cerebral depths of percussion-based sounds. As the drummer of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Chase is no stranger to the art of percussion. From the earlier times of Chase drumming with his college band The Seconds to Chaikin Records, the label he created operates with a dedication towards broadcasting musical intersections. It is crystal clear that Chase has dedicated his life not just to music, but the intense inspection of it as well. It comes as no surprise that Drums and Drones: Decade stands as an encyclopedic delve into the depths of seemingly simple drones and percussion.
From the title of this project alone, listeners are informed that Chase has dedicated years and years towards gathering this sonic information. Though the music of drones is fundamentally similar, his collection of drones on Volume 1 and Volume 2 contain individual attributes that make each sound unique.
For example, the album’s first track off of Volume 1, “Aum Drone,” is sharp and intense. Its mid-tone ringing penetrates the atmosphere slowly but surely, growing in intensity until bass notes kick in. It is headache-inducing and surreal, in stark contrast with the much more harmonic “Feedback Drone.” Here, what seems like a chord rings endlessly. Though “Feedback Drone” is definitely abrasive, it has a certain air of beauty to it that somehow manifested itself from the simplicity of drones.
“Witch Drone,” on the other hand, is much more textured and sporadic. Potential dry plucks of electric guitar echo and reverberate. An almost voice-like echo fades in and out, creating a ghostly atmosphere that equally haunts and hypnotizes. Every track on Drums and Drones: Decade could be highlighted for its quirks and bursts of simple sonic genius, but the only way to truly understand them is to take a listen.
Another way Chase displays his immersion into this field is by recording his project’s development through the book that comes along as a part of the box set. He details the formulations, inspirations and processes that piled up to become a decade’s worth of material. In nearly 150 pages of Chase’s personal liner notes, annotations and philosophies, the book beautifully amplifies the profundity of the gargantuan Drums and Drones: Decade. Listeners are given access to an inside look of Chase’s world, effortlessly laid out through a medium other than Chase’s primary mode of expression. The result? Chase illustrates wonderful color and depth that few have associated with drones.
One particularly engaging aspect of Drums and Drones: Decade are the tracks with many versions. When paired with the texts Chase has provided, dense final products are unwrapped layer by layer to see how they are constructed. The beauty of such an inclusive breadth of tracks lies with the element of chance and possibility. Each version captures an alternate universe where Chase decided to keep one tweaked version over the other.
For example, the many different versions of “Melody Drum Drone” are fundamentally similar. What starts off as individual metallic twangs pick up in speed to bounce off each other, shallow and much more percussive. However, each version differs in pitch and tempo, creating an exhilarating second version, and a velvety fourth version. Had Chase not presented all four versions, it is dubious whether the languid fourth version would have seemed suspenseful as it did when listeners had to wait much longer for the note they knew was to come next. By including all versions of a track, not only does Chase allow for these newfound listening experiences that only come with hindsight, but also suggests that there is no such thing as perfection in music. There is only variation, and when collected together like in Drums and Drones: Decade, it amplifies the artistic process that few have the chance to see for themselves.
Drums and Drones: Decade has it all: the meditational qualities of the drones, the textures of the drums, the details of what’s behind-the-scenes of his creation, the variation that manifests after dedicating a decade towards a singular field. The list could go on and on, as Chase shows he never holds back when it comes to what he is most passionate about. Chase’s laser-like focus has contributed so deeply and selflessly to the experimental genre that this project fluidly morphs into something educational, something inspired, something ever-so-quietly groundbreaking. Whatever it may be, Drums and Drones: Decade has set the bar that much higher for a truly immersive musical experience.