Drew McDowall : Collapse LP

Drew McDowall’s back story reads like a primer of psychedelic fiction woven into statements of the unbelievable, superhuman and outright insane. Somewhere in the chaotic madness, comes an artist such as McDowall with total control and absolute calm within his songs and artistic method.

Growing up in the gangs of 1970’s Scotland, Drew McDowall started to shy away from the daily violence once punk took hold of the counterculture youth. Drew McDowall quickly scrambled to form his own punk band in 1978 with his then wife, Rose McDowall, called The Poems. Shortly lived, the Poems released a single and various tracks but more importantly, the band allowed McDowall to network with other local musicians in Glasgow, such as Orange Juice, and allowed him to travel down to London thus forming friendships with Genesis P-Orridge, David Tibet and countless others, bringing Drew into the fold of the experimental revolution happening in the UK brought upon by Throbbing Gristle and executed by bands such as Psychic TV and Current 93.

During the 1980’s, McDowall found himself in the ranks of P-Orridge’s Psychic TV and collaborating with the mysterious duo comprised of former Throbbing Gristle creator Peter ‘Sleazy’ Christopherson and the enigmatic John Balance who had been creating esoteric and progressive electronic music under the title of Coil. It was during his formative collaborations with Coil that McDowall saw himself shift from occasional contributor to austere full-time member of the arcane outfit. McDowall’s impact on the band’s sound was apparent as the releases transformed from their previous avant pop signature to a more complex and methodic electronic imprint accompanied by even more abstruse subject matter than previous years. McDowall would continue honing his compositional skills with Coil until the release of the band’s two most broad-minded albums, Astral Disaster and Musick to Play in the Dark.

The past decade, Drew McDowall found himself living in New York City and re-appropriating himself within the local music scenes he found himself contributing to. In 2011, alongside his friend and collaborator, Tres Warren (Psychic Ills), McDowall found himself exploring his passion of meditative drone and abstract sound patterns in their project Compound Eye. In recent times, McDowall’s production work has provided the music world with some of the most outstanding remixes for bands such as Nine Inch Nails, Azar Swan and Long Distance Poisonas well as his well-received scores he composed alongside artist Tamaryn for the works of Bret Easton Ellis. Outside of his collaborative duties, McDowall formed an audience as a solo artist, playing countless performances and showcases around New York’s electronic music haunts.

Dais Records approached Drew to solidify his standing as a leading electronic musician with the recording of new material neatly wrapped up in his debut album entitled “Collapse”. Recorded in 2015 in Brooklyn, NY, McDowall’s synonymous modular synthesizer compositions are augmented by obtuse sampling cut-ups and contributions from Nicky Mao (Hiro Kone / Effi Briest) rounding out the lumbering sequential knot work that has become synonymous with McDowall and craft.

Check out tracks from Drew McDowall's debut album, Collapse, over at Fact Magazine, The Wire, and Pitchfork.

First Black Vinyl Edition of 500 sold out.  Second Edition of Clear and Blue Vinyl available.  $16.99 - CLICK TO ORDER.


DREKKA : Unbeknownst to the Participants at Hand LP

Continuing his work with memory not only as a subject but also as a process, Michael Andersonhas culled many of the sounds on this record from the past. But this is not a record of rehashed material or remixes. Rather, DREKKA's music is made through continually delving into an archive, digging up and repurposing old recordings, live performances, and forgotten snippets of the voices of out-of-touch friends.

Anderson often begins his live performances subtly, with smoldering ambiences and sublime waves, a practice which functions both as soundcheck and prelude. In this case, a sonic formation used to bridge two sets performed one night in Taranto, Italy, has been revisited and reshaped into "The Seventh Continent (Oceanic Waves Wave)." It is a work of evocative and emotive sound art, assembled textures created from manipulated voices. The piece owes as much toNURSE WITH WOUND as it does to MICHAEL HANEKE, whose influence is paid homage through the title. Anderson indeed plays the role of the auteur here, his own voice manipulated and intertwined with the voices of unwitting collaborators, unwitting at least in the moment. They are voices from his archive of cassettes and field recordings. Annelies Monseré makes an appearance from Gent, Belgium, many months or years earlier and many miles away.

"The Work in Question is Unbeknownst to The Participants at Hand (in three sections)"reaches even further back, through years of sound. The details of locations, methods, and even participants are hazy (Tyler Damon, Sarah Dunevant, Mark Trecka are among the certainly present) and in some cases completely lost (anonymous, obscured entirely). The sounds of a forgotten recording session from the mid-90s are counted among the sources here. Anderson’s deft hand has collated and juxtaposed strands of narratives from across two decades into this haunted drone. Like TARKOVSKY's "The Mirror", it is an assemblage of memories, at times dissonant. But like the work of TIM HECKER, this is music that is warm and hospitable and in some sense ultimately soothing.

Working under the name DREKKA since 1996, Anderson has released dozens of cassettes, CDs, and LPs on both his own Bluesanct label and many other labels internationally. He has traveled, collaborated, and relocated; collecting memories and building an very personal archive of corresponding sound. Tours throughout Iceland and Europe and the United States have contributed to that archive as much as they have served as platforms for public performance. DREKKA owes something to the soundscapes and non-linear impressionism of CINDYTALK or COIL, the gravity of EINSTÜRZENDE NEUBAUTEN. But his work is very apparently unique. Throughout years of performing and recording, Drekka has explored early industrial tape culture, fragile bedroom noise folk, and expansive cinematic textures. He has touched on the themes of silence and memory and noise and forgetfulness. In the past decade, his gorgeous sound sculptures have fit more neatly into the industrial noise and ambient genres, holding a place alongside contemporaries like SVARTE GREINER, TIM HECKER, or WILLIAM FOWLER COLLINS. And yet these pieces are very evidently personal. Rather than the obscurity that is so often the effect of experimental music, DREKKA functions as a direct line into Anderson’s mind, his dreams, and his fragile and tenuous cache of memories. These personal aspects and this fragility are even more clearly on display than if they were obfuscated by poetic abstractions.

While "haunting" and "hypnogogic" are words often used to describe experimental music and art, DREKKA unequivocally occupies and deals in those dark spaces which comprise the tenuous province of memory and dreams. Those are the real ghosts of time and sound.

“Unbeknownst to the Participants at Hand" is Drekka’s second offering in a trilogy of full-length releases on Dais Records. This second volume will be pressed in a limited edition pressing of 500 copies.

Check out the video for Drekka off his newest album over at The Wire: