Drone San‘s self-titled record on Horribly Loud Records is described in its press as “an electronic music project with acoustic/electroacoustic incursions that fits in the contemporary post-jazz scene.” This, apparently, is exactly the sort of thing I am into these days.
And it makes sense: I’ve been listening to artsy electro for years but dislike heavy doses of the metronomic formalism inherent in techno-related work. I have been edging my way toward jazz, but my interest wanes in proportion to the distance the musicians move away from song structure and melodic continuity. Electronic post-jazz promises to fill the gap tidily: some structure, not too much; weird melodies, but not too chaotic.
Drone San’s record shows off this fusion perfectly. Far from feeling like an interloper in either sphere, this collection sticks the landing in the exact center of a Venn diagram between jazz and electronic. Aptly titled standout “Detroit’s Son” connects the dots of sleek electronic atmospherics, warped and syncopated bass, motorik electronic melodies, and snare-heavy ratatat jazz drumming into a perfectly unified whole. “Ornamentalities” has similarly dusky parts (and … theremin?) applied in different ways, but to the same sorts of success. “Waltzer Matthau” (love the joke) is an equally tight but more cheerful romp through the conventions of both genres to make something new and exciting.
While they can fuse the two genres seamlessly, Drone San can also split them apart. Opener “Drone” is a tension-building post-dub electronic piece that has ODESZA and similar luminaries as peers. Closer “San” is a wistful, elegant piano tune that feels fit for a late-night jazz lounge. The nice touch of opening and closing the record with song titles that form their name shows not only their cleverness but their awareness of what they’re doing as an outfit. They show off their bonafides in the opening and closing tracks, and then show off their ideas in the five middle pieces.
Drone San is a fun, eclectic, exciting record. It’s always fun to hear people joining conversations and pushing things forward. This debut record does a lot to position this duo as a strong voice in the post-jazz conversation. Highly recommended.