Dielectric Drone All Stars

Dr. One

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    7
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AllMusic Review by

The name of this collective satirically sums up the project -- these are "stars" of a rather small magnitude, at least to the public eye. Six musicians on the U.S. West Coast, known in experimental circles for their work with drones, come together to perform six pieces, for a total of 88 minutes of music spread across two discs. The lineup includes percussionist Karen Stackpole (playing a 40-inch symphonic gong), bassist William Noertker, accordionist Garth Steel Kippert, violinist Tony Cross, didgeridoo player Benny Hayes, and Drew Webster, (aka Die Elektrischen), credited for "electric train" -- he's probably responsible for the electric-sounding textures (hums and buzzes). The decision to present the music in two sets of 45 minutes is a wise one; the listener can more easily get immersed into the music without growing uncomfortable or tired. Disc one features three delicate but rather faceless drones. They shimmer and please, bringing to mind Pauline Oliveros' Timeless Pulse project, but they don't leave a mark. On the other hand, the three pieces on disc two have a more strongly affirmed character. "Plotinian Plateau," the longest piece of the whole album at close to 30 minutes, literally engulfs the listener inside its dense tapestry of sustained sounds, slowly building to a riveting climax -- the droning incarnation of the Necks. And for "Fatal Blow," the group retreats from its unified group sound to let individual instruments come forward, especially the didgeridoo, double bass, violin, and accordion. The interplay between their gracious abstracted melodies and textures recalls the most beautiful aspects of Morton Feldman's music. "Sote's Camouflage," concluding disc two, veers into noise and obviously includes digital manipulation and recombination. If it consisted of disc two only, Dr. One would warrant the warmest recommendation, but even with its weaker first half, it still deserves attention.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
11:19
2
24:49
3
4:14

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
13:57
2
9:03
3
5:23
blue highlight denotes track pick