Derivative (10.09, Silber Records)
For: Birchville Cat Motel, German Shepherd, Silver Antlers
Byline: Bob Dylan, droned.
Being a pretty marginal fan of both metal and hip hop, I nevertheless get pretty giddy when I hear stuff by Girl Talk and Birchville Cat Motel. When my brother puts on Girl Talk in the car we begin a tag-team dissection of cultural/musical references. He is all over the hip-hop tracks like, "this is the Ying-Yang Twins, duh" and I've got the "Dude! That is The Band! or Yo! He is sampling Rainbow on this track!". I also get chills up my spine when I hear Birchville Cat Motel's thirty minute long dismantle of a single Iron Maiden riff on "Drawn Towards Chanting Chords". Not that I have any past with Iron Maiden, I don't think I have ever listened to a full album, BCM's meditation on that riff is just so heavy and beautiful it makes me want to do something with my life. So when I read that ambient/drone guitar pioneer Brian John Mitchell's project Remora would be releasing Derivative, which would follow suit in crafting guitar drones around cherished pop hooks I knew I had something amazing on my hands. Creating solo guitar drones in the style of an noisier Aidan Baker solo project, Remora tackles musical passages by Bob Dylan, Journey, Pere Ubu, Warrior Soul and Hefner. Not that you would be able to pick any of these songs out by any sort of compositional familiarity, not by a long shot. I still can't really figure them out. But with or without this knowledge going into this album, Derivative is a drone masterpiece. I wouldn't ever call drone piece catchy per say, but the album opener "Every Prince" has a gorgeous guitar upswell that nearly takes my breath away every time. If anything comes close to a drone single, this is it. A type of shoegazy beauty that defies categorization. Layer upon layer upon layer of hypnotic, swirling guitar parts stretch any pop tendencies into a meditative sea of clairvoyant noise. I know I am not using clairvoyant in the right sense of the word but it felt nice to write. Derivative is a stunnigly gorgeous album and stands on its own regardless of maybe, just maybe being able to pick out a Pere Ubu bass line. But Warrior Soul, I've never heard them before. Remora just made me a huge fan. Serious.