Man, do you hear that? Is my phone buzzing? Yes, it probably is, but if you find yourself thinking that on Saturday, May 10, please consider Drone Day. With listening parties and shows taking place all over the country in honour of the drone, Drone Day promises to be the ultimate gateway drug to experimental music.
Dreamed up by the team behind Weird Canada (seriously, who else could even pull together a national event like this in a matter of weeks?), the Halifax offering to Drone Day will be held throughout the day at Lost & Found (2383 Agricola), beginning at 1pm (disclosure, a band I am involved with will be participating in some noisemaking that day). The event is free and will offer curious listeners a chance to mix up their own frequencies, or just let the hypnotic drone wash over them.
Halifax organizer Evan Matthews explains: “We wanted to have a day where people can listen together and listen in places where drone music wouldn't normally be. It’s a celebration of drone music in general.”
As a genre, drone comes in many packages. “It’s challenging but relatively easy to understand conceptually,” says Matthews. “It’s somewhat broadly defined. There’s a lot you can do with it, and it feels good, it can be a visceral physical sensation after a certain amount of time.”
Matthews lists Steve Reich’s tape collage piece “Come Out”, Gordon Monahan’s “Speaker Swinging” and the work of John Cage as good examples of the transcendence of the genre. His own experience began with playing with delay pedals, and Matthews hopes to recreate a similar situation on Saturday with a synth drone for the public to manipulate as well as a giant improvised synth drone love in: “very minimal, but a lot of layers.” Matthews will also be playing the music of local experimental musicians Torso and Matthew Samways, and Saffrons will play overtop the droning beauty, among others.
Sure, a drone opus may not be at the top of the charts anytime soon, but for anyone who looks for different experiences out of their musical consumption—beyond something that has a good beat and that you can dance to—Saturday’s event will serve as a gathering of like minds. Matthews explains the group behind Weird Canada do it for love. “Fortunately Weird Canada is populated with people who genuinely love music.”
“One time I was volunteering at SappyFest and my job was to babysit an installation for four hours in the afternoon,” says Matthews. “There was an old ‘70s stereohead, which had six speakers arranged in a hexagon around it, with crystals on top. There was a Discman playing a CD on a 3.5 second frequency loop and I had to make sure I restarted it when it stopped. I sat around and hung out in a giant hall all afternoon just listening to this loop. It was amazing.” Now that’s true love.