Or, as with Dreamless, the latest release from American droner Radere, a night fuelled with insomnia underneath the black night. Dreamless can be looked at in a couple of ways, but deep inside the lo-fi drones and looping guitars exists a sense of prevailing surrender to forces beyond our control. Radere is not just another drone artist, and a sizable portion of Dreamless is not one of a sound and dreamless night drifting in the stasis-promise of deep sleep. In actuality, Dreamless – the follow-up to his highly impressive I’ll Make You Quiet – sinks its fangs into its victim in a way that renders it unconscious; closed, unresponsive eyes ensure it only looks like sleep, when in reality the atmosphere is wide-awake and potentially dangerous.
A lot of people may find it easy to fall asleep at the speaking of the word drone. Radere, aka Carl Ritger, is different. His kind of drone is very much alive. In the midst of stunning, natural scenery, Radere’s music mirrors the state of Colorado with beautiful, high-resolution dronescapes that aren’t just pretty to look at – they are also filled with a substantial core.
Set free from a debut’s restrictions, Dreamless and her aqua-clear drones are playful, dipping and diving with an increased level in experimentation that had, up to this point, only been a twinkle on the horizon, shining on high as if on top of the Sawatch Range peaks. The looping daydream of “Beginnings” shifts to a restless, head-turning nightmare as “Widow Maker” drapes a spiral of vertigo over the listener; as soon as the track sinks in, the poison strikes. A disorientating cycle spins and spins into an unstoppable force that leaves you reeling from the brutality of the sonic assault. You can’t wake up.
As “Widow Maker” cocoons its victim inside a web of vicious revenge, it’s clear that Radere’s technique – on this track using voltage controlled oscillators and an amazing amount of feedback – has considerably advanced within the space of only one year. Ferocious spirals arise out of the dream and turn it into an arachnophobic nightmare of unstable drone that never lets up. The contrast between this track and the opener, where a lucid, shimmering electric guitar sends out her clean tone into the dry air, cleansing the aromatic atmosphere with tonal incense, is an incredible leap forward. Despite the full-on intensity, the air stays free of pollution. Images of deep, green forests and placid lakes descend down like blinds over the eyes, along with a breathtaking amount of space and the desire to roam free. “I Remember You” stirs and then shakes leaves of intense green draped over hanging branches; Radere’s drone is light, enveloped by winds of white static as she hovers unseen over the pure earth. Dreamless adds another layer of fuzz-lovin’ static to Ritger’s already sizzling atmospheres in a way similar to last year’s collaboration with offthesky, I Will Love You, Always. Radere’s sonic template has already been set. And yet, Dreamless thrusts Radere into new territory and newer-still expanses.
“Marin” closes out with an arid desert of drone, sweating out the tones in a dehydrated state of drift punished by sun-blazing heat and winds whipping up flares of melody through a phosphorescent sandstorm. Recorded in the bunkers of Marin Headlands, San Francisco, this rounds off a listen that clearly surpasses anything he has previously put his hand to. Like a fever, the track shimmers in and out of reality, and you’re never entirely sure of yourself. Deep cut melodies, beautiful as they are, oppose a layer of crystal clear drone that seems finally able to rest in a sound, dreamless haze.
Not only is Dreamless a desperate desire for this state of divine sleep (and also for defeat of the insomnia we potentially all face – that of rising negativity), it is a positive release that has its emotional ups and downs along the way. It never loses the hope for deep sleep’s healing return (recorded as it was during a turbulent time for Ritger). It is also a record that leaves all of his contemporaries lying awake with sleep continuously alluding. (James Catchpole)