Kevin Drumm Diary

Dear Diary,

After eyeing this boy cautiously for some time at (Band) camp, I finally got up the courage to approach. After some quick sample interactions, I decided to purchase his full discography. I was initially euphoric, but then the reality of this relationship set in…how was I ever going to navigate the 113 items I just acquired? Taking a deep calming breath and consulting the “Tao Te Ching” it appeared there was only one answer: "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." So I just began listening in the order they appear in my Bandcamp queue, an order which seems to be what they refer to in the music business as “random.”

[Rating is an “m” based scale: 1 m = meh, 2 m = it’s OK, 3 m = good, 4 m = yes!, 5 m = wow!]

#006

“The Illusion Of Having Plans”

An unexpected development…something really quiet from Kevin Drumm. This is a long, one-track release and when I first hit play I didn’t hear anything. Then I noticed in the description that Kevin called it “particle music” (which I’m fairly certain is a term he coined) and recommended playing it at the “loudest volume possible.” Nervously (which, in my defense, I think is justifiable in light of the other noise I’ve listened to so far) I turned the volume all the way up to 11 and started over. Sure enough, while still quiet, there was some static scattered amongst the silences. For the duration you’ll hear what at times sounds like a Geiger counter or the sound of a needle on a vinyl record, but it's mostly good old-fashioned static. But, there is also a bit of a challenge here; several times during the course of the 46 minute piece there is an interruption from a slightly intrusive chattering rhythm. It’s almost like it’s trying to take over from the static, but the static won’t give up so chatter fades and regroups. Toward the end chatter tries one more time, but can’t out do static and drops out before static slowly fades away.

Pro tip: Just don’t forget to turn your sound back down when done or you might be in for a rude surprise for whatever you listen to next.

Rating: Kevin Drummm

#005

“The Kitchen”

I humbly submit that the Big Muff is the greatest of all distortion pedals. It’s put to an interesting use here (along with some other tools) to modify that king of all noise instruments – the accordion. An unexpected combination that leads to three interesting tracks on this album. The first (“Accord A”) is a bit of a mellower offering from Mr. Drumm than his usual; it’s sort of an ambient drone piece with some slight metallic sound over a bed of deeper tones. “Accord B” (of course) is up next; this is a longer, more abrasive piece with grinding, buzzing, and white noise elements. For the third and final track, well, for starters, can you guess the name? Wrong, it’s just called “C.” Regardless, this track offers some extremely quiet and deep tones. Each of the three is consistent in their design from beginning to end; you could sample a song at any point and have a pretty good idea what is on offer for that entire track. You might say this is another music in a different kitchen…or not. But it is another good one from the catalogue.

Rating: Kevin Drummmm

#004

“Purge”

If you’re into this noise thing that I expect will feature in most/all of these Kevin Drumm releases, I’m not sure you could find a better one than “Purge.” Out of the gate you get hit in the face with screaming metallic noise, but this is not a simple monolith of harsh sounds. At any given time you may hear what sounds like metal being drilled, buzzing electricity, feedback, or an actual hurricane (to mention but a few features that are called to mind). There are frequent shifts in the details of the loud noises, but also numerous places where the sound drops completely for a second or two or ratchets down for a brief period to something calm (relatively speaking), which builds the tension for the next blast you know is coming. And listen for the false ending – harsh electricity fades back in, and then all is capped with some regal church bells and brass band sound. Maximum “m’s” for this one.

Rating: Kevin Drummmmm

#003

“REVERSE OSMOSIS”

While I was listening to “REVERSE OSMOSIS,” Mrs. Trapezoid walked into the room with a quizzical look on her face and asked “do you hear that noise?” She had been looking around trying to figure out what the odd sound was that she was hearing from the other room. I hit the mute button and she said “Oh, it’s your music” and left the room unfazed. Yes dear, nothing to be concerned about…it’s just Kevin Drumm.

This release is one longer track made up of sinewaves. It’s fairly straightforward as the waves overlap, fade up and down, and create pulsing rhythms. Close your eyes and relax; this is one of those things you can put on and work your way into a trancelike state.

Rating: Kevin Drummmm

#002

 

“Necro Acoustic 1 - Lights Out”

 

This is a four track album with absolutely no information on the Bandcamp page, but it sounds like all electronics. Wire Magazine put “Necro Acoustic” on its Top 50 releases list for 2010; turns out this was one of five albums included in a “Necro Acoustic” box set released that year. Apparently all five were released individually on Bandcamp at later dates, so I’ll be getting to the other four eventually (following my previously disclosed and patented “random” strategy).

 

After the endurance test of the “60 Minute Relief” I guessed this would be a walk in the park and, indeed, it turned out these tracks were less dense and abrasive. The first track starts out sounding like the din of nature out in the country somewhere, then a couple minutes in some stranger sounds like a helicopter and spaceship appear. There are also some high-pitched tones. Disclaimer: I have chronic tinnitus so it’s possible I was adding the tones to the mix. The second track starts very quiet and builds some gentle static, then adds some more tones and electronics (and maybe voices at the end) down in the mix. Both tracks had a bit of a creepy feel and are recommended. Track three is extremely quiet; in fact, I honestly don’t know if there’s anything there at all (did I mention my tinnitus?). The final long track is made up mostly of very subtle high and low pitched tones. It reminded me of my last hearing test with my audiologist, so the last two tracks might be more enjoyable if you have good hearing but they don’t do much for me.

Rating: Kevin Drumm

 

#001

“60 Minute Relief”

So it begins on a lazy Sunday afternoon. This one jumps right in with full on industrial noise that somewhat shocked me into alertness. The release notes indicate this was made with pulse generators, shortwave, and distortion, but it also sounds to me like it could also be some shred guitar at the beginning. This is harsh noise and I know many who would run the other direction after about 30 seconds. However, if you’re into this sort of thing, it’s a trip. After the heavy opening, the sound abruptly shifts at about the 9:40 mark and for the rest of the hour you’re pulled into a cacophony of noise that at times had me hearing (1) screams, although I couldn’t tell if they were of the terror variety or just my id letting off some steam, and (2) church organ and bells (but perhaps that was just some subliminal Sunday suggestion).  While I would in no way describe this one as “easy listening,” after I reached the abrupt end at the 59:05 running time of this, I felt a strange calm; maybe this will all work out.

Rating: Kevin Drummmm