The buzz began with Wire Tapper 28 and the sonic mulch of Tonesucker’s “cosmic avian variation”, which sounded somewhat like a gravel field being mowed next to an active propeller. The track was a teaser mix of three longer selections on Omnia Convivia Crastina, which is easily one of the year’s standout releases in the drone arena.
“Drones, pulses and noises” is the label’s description, which is a great start. This album, Tonesucker’s sixth, is a triptych of live performances, thick with feedback, buzz and whirr, packed with pattern but astonishingly free of repetition. It’s possible the performers didn’t even know what it would sound like until they played it, and that they’ll never be able to replicate it in any reliable fashion. Nor, it seems, would they wish to do so; during the launch party, they put the recording on a USB stick, shoved it in a bottle and sent it into the North Sea. Some lonely beachcomber is going to get the surprise of a lifetime.
Is it noise? Most people would say so, but it’s noise with flow and beauty, elegance and grace. Unlike other music of its kind, Omnia Convivia Crastina coheres to internal mechanisms that provide each long piece – and the album as a whole – with substance and form. Nothing seems random, even though it must be so; no startling bursts knock the listener from his chair. At times, it’s even lulling, due to the wavy drones passing behind the fuzz and squeal.
The industrialized revolution brought these sounds into the public consciousness, and for most of history they have seemed unwanted. This noise is tamed, sculpted, shaped and made desirable: the potentially ugly made potentially beautiful, even glorious, a wash of mechanized sounds with aquatic timbres, imitations of telephones and emergency vehicles, bells and wires and factories forming an unlikely harmonious choir. Yet none of this would be possible without the invitation of an odd party, one that some in the noise field would even consider an enemy: silence. In order to succeed, noise must work in opposition to, not in ignorance of silence. It does so here, especially on “Worm”, threading its way from deserted sonic spaces to the very center of the maze. The mediating party – volume – darts back and forth between the two, negotiating a truce, but never a peace. But peace is not what we want – not here, not now. We want controlled chaos, and danger, and rustling in the woods, which is exactly what this brilliant album provides. (Richard Allen)