Blood In The Coffin Blood In The Coffin


Winter Drones Winter DronesBlood In The Coffin

7.1 / 10


Only those who have dug very, very deep into the roots of psychedelic folk, also known as the sound of new weird America, will remember the name Hush Arbors. It’s no crime to not know everything about this kind of band, but it helps to better understand the concept of Winter Drones. Here, Leon J. Dufficy, right hand of Keith Wood –who can also be seen among the members of Sunburned Hand Of The Man and at the Ecstatic Peace! label HQ–, changes skin and hair, like the animals before the season’s change, and prepares himself for the harsh winter in the company of two basic survival tools: an electric guitar and an effects pedal rack. Winter Drones is, therefore, a naked project, with the majority of its leaves gone and cold like an icy winds over the plains. There’s not much folk to be found on these seven songs of variable duration –“Undreamed / Unheard” runs for little over two minutes; “Stiff Wizard” lasts more than ten–, because the idea of Winter Drones is to offer his vision to the never-ending cycle of atmospheric rock with the adjective “shoegaze”.

When comparing him to two mythical and key names of the genre, Winter Drones doesn’t sound as delicate as Slowdive nor as complex as My Bloody Valentine. “Blood In The Coffin” has all the features of a record recorded without pressure or strict deadlines, a record matured in the solitude of a log cabin that doesn’t pretend to do more than warm up moonless nights. Dufficy performs his compositions –only in certain cases, like “Winnie Cooper Bones”, where he sings with a muffled voice, we could speak of songs– as radiation of sound. The guitar appears to be an energy source that is turned on and off at random, and while Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine had elaborate compositions and meticulous productions on which the guitars piled on in infinite layers of complexity, Winter Drones honour the stage name and bases the structure of better part of the record on thrifty economy, on the same note repeated over and over again in an obsessive and, at times, tense mantra. But it’s not a drones album like the ones by Eleh, it’s closer to the experimental metal of Sunn O))) or the amorphous noise of Earth. As far as influences are concerned –and moving away from for the schizo folk that had been his preferred style until now–, Winter Drones has looked for some that could help him attract the attention of the indie audience interested in dark, weird and curious sounds.

If the ultimate goal of Winter Drones is to jump on some bandwagon in particular, he is obviously too late. I’m sure he’s aware of the fact that the initial excitement caused by Nadja, Sunn O))) and similar post-doom bands has worn off somewhat now. But I don’t think he was looking for that, basically because, in spite of the superficial use of the drone as the principal structure of the record, there’s not too much alienating repetition. “Blood In The Coffin” has a dark background, but not the intention to assault your ears or put the listener to the test –proof of that is in “Stiff Wizard”: it even sounds pretty, in the distance. This is where Winter Drones finds his place, in the subtle way of intertwining noisy guitars with echoing effects and of expanding the sound in an atmospheric wake. At the end of the road in this dark forest full of wolves, there is a light –“Two Long Wks Prt. 2” stands apart from all that came before it and seeks refuge in conventional noise-rock. In hindsight, the trip has been rather pleasant: after all, he is a hippie. At the same time, you feel like Dufficy didn’t have all the courage that he would have liked. It’s a beautiful album, but it generates mixed feelings. The dark side, as many Jedi know, is many times the most tempting way to go.

Robert Gras

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