The Drones
Robin Parmar

Stolen Mirror is proud to announce the release of "The Drones", a digital album that sees us on Bandcamp for the first time. Listen to tracks free of charge. Buy only what you want. Get a bonus selection with the full album purchase. Or purchase the limited edition compact disk. It's all here.

The limited edition CD of "The Drones" adds two further compositions that date back to 1987. These pieces for viola were recorded onto 24-track analogue tape and are among the artist's favourite work. The CD packages are individually made and limited to 100 copies. Every purchase of the CD comes with immediate digital download of the album.

File under: ambient, drone, noise, experimental, electroacoustic
Code: 2013D01 / 2013C01

Robin Parmar is an electroacoustic composer, improviser, and sound artist based in Ireland. His pieces have been played in Canada, United States, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, England, Germany, and Sweden. Here is his introduction to "The Drones".

I keep coming back to the drone as the essence of music, from the primal to the contemporary. Ancients must have relished the thrum of the waterfall, the lash of wind in a storm, the sound of distant thunder detected first by the hairs of the neck. Instruments like the suburuburu (bullroarer) were held sacred in societies across the globe. From this simple twirling stick came a complex sound that seemed to mirror the cycles of day and night, tide on tide, season following season.

Drums were brought out for special occasions, played not only for rhythm but to create long-term oscillations and pulses. Voices were trained to sing overtone notes and create beat frequencies... sounds that transcended what simple flesh should be capable of. Is it any wonder that such music is associated with mysterious rites and religious experiences?

In contemporary life we are surrounded by drones of our own construction: the thrum of tire on tarmac, the shriek of heavy machinery, the whine of a television transformer, or the ever-present AC power hum. These sounds are only annoying when we do not listen. If we pay attention they become strangely comforting. Their steadfast nature provides a safe context in which we can contemplate our environment, just as the chanting of monks allows thoughts to turn inwards. The drone and meditation go hand in hand.

Six years in the making, this collection explores the contemporary drone through many methods and in various forms. Tracks vary from field recordings ("Roadworks") to compositions for viola and oscillator ("Transfixed In Her Stare"). Percussion, electric guitar, organ, and the bullroarer itself all contribute to the sonic diversity.

This album utilises particular harmonic relationships in order to create certain psychoacoustic effects. Since these become more apparent at increased volumes, it is recommended that you play this album as loud as is comfortable and safe. For this same reason, we recommend you download the high quality FLAC files. The streaming MP3 version provides a compromised listening experience, but is here as a free alternative.

Visit Bandcamp to listen or purchase.

The Limited edition CD version of this album includes two bonus tracks that are among the oldest the artist has recorded. Here is his description of their provenance.

Back in June 1987, I brought my friend Nadir Ansari into the studio (SRS, London, Canada) to record single extended viola notes onto a Studer twenty-four track reel-to-reel deck. The process of capturing the full spectrum of the instrument with three microphones was as revealing as the requirement for long single notes (five minutes in duration) was taxing. The result was played back at half speed and manipulated using the available outboard effects, by a team of fellow recording artists (Tim McLaughlin, Suzanne Frank, and Peter Kryshtalovich). I played the mixer as a chromatic instrument.

A quarter century later I went back to the same studio and had the master tapes transferred from the obscure 12-bit digital format onto which they had been mastered. But not all the selections survived the process. "The Price of Poetry" (9:11) is a new transfer, but "The Recognition" (8:26) has been mastered from the only extant source, cassette tape.