Ryan Huber is one busy man, with three different projects released in a single month. His most famous aspect, Sujo, has been quiet for a year, perhaps on sabbatical, leaving room for new names to rise to the fore. Together these acts form a Trinity of Drone.
Appearing under his own name, Huber offers a more sedate take on drone than we are used to hearing from the artist. Horus is a single 17-minute track, a tale of two halves. The first is a drifting, growing drone like a slow-moving, pregnant cumulus cloud before it gives birth. The second is the thick, heavy downpour, filled with distortion, feedback and fuzz. Brief moments of near-silence set up subsequent rounds of digital rain. This is one of the finest studies of sound we’ve heard from the artist, with noise doled out stingily instead of steadily. The dynamic contrast is exquisite. Although it’s only one track, this is a case of less being more, as the power of the track would be reduced if it were accompanied by others. As seen below, there will be plenty of room for friends to join the party.
On Dhow‘s Amara, Huber goes right for the noise with the drums and distorted guitar of “Galil”. Even without the title, one can sense a slight Arabian tinge to the music. In an interesting twist, the album is offered alongside a clear 7″ containing mono versions of this and the slow, shoegazey “Nhi”. The organ tones of Sujo pop up at the end of “Galil” and are revisited at other times throughout the album, battling the Ride vibe for dominance. The track listing is a bit unusual, as the shoegaze and “pure” drone pieces are separated from each other like misbehaving students. The best transitions arrive when a track of one timbre morphs into the timbre of another before it ends, providing a sonic bridge. Overall, the music sounds like being snowed in. The album is often as bleak as the winter in which it was recorded, but melodic veins poke through the translucent skin. The elements combine on “Captus”, which throws the disparate influences in a digital blender. Huber’s particular brand of stir crazy is to implode and explode in equal measure, and Amara allows both outlets. By the closing “Bells”, all is finally resolved.
And now a burst of color. Olekranon’s Aphelion stands apart from its brethren in both appearance and sound. One can almost dance to it. As soon as the opening bars of “Periview” hit the ears, one asks, “Is this still Huber?” It is, in playful mode. With eleven tracks, all in the two-four minute range, Aphelion seems loaded with at least the semblance of singles. While a light dusting of shoegaze is still apparent, the more obvious influence is 80s guitar gothic and industrial (Sisters of Mercy, Front 242). Percussive patterns abound, looping and repeating while static and echo wreak havoc in the background. These tracks concentrate on texture, eschewing the obvious melodic hook, but each is one riff away from stardom. “Blackprint” comes closest to that crossover arena, graced with a head-nodding beat and a repeating alarm tone. Is it too much to request a remix, perhaps b/w the deep-toned “Recalled”? Given the variety of these three releases, it wouldn’t be a surprise to hear Huber in yet another, unnamed guise; we doubt he’ll run out of ideas anytime soon. (Richard Allen)