Monday 29 October 2012

Documenta - Dronepop #2

Album review by KevW

It's not a trick or a means to draw attention from unexpected sources (hello Egyptian Hip Hop), Belfast's Documenta are being 100% accurate by calling this new album 'Dronepop #2' (and as they're not fans of being misleading, I'll give you three guesses what their previous release was called. Yep, got it in one.) As the band have mentioned themselves, much of the so called alternative music press spends most of its time championing landfill indie and and bands looking to scrape a few crumbs up from below Mumford & Sons banquet table. Space rock and drones are alive and well but have been driven underground. For example, Sonic Boom (Sonic bloody Boom!) was booed following a support slot with Kurt Vile earlier this year. The audience didn't know who he was or understand his music at all.

If such a legend can disregarded by a young crowd who have no idea what he was doing, then what hope to fellow space travellers have? The best option is to stick to your course, make the music you believe in, as you think it should be, and let those in the know appreciate it, knowing that the current generation are missing out. Hopefully David Holmes' interest in the band will help them reach a wider audience, but still, they have their whole lifetimes to catch up, and music goes in cycles so the day of the drone will come again. This is the exact approach taken by Documenta and their music is very much in the vein of Spacemen 3 (their previous EP included a cover of 'Losing Touch With My Mind' as well as sonic adventurer Sun Ra's 'Space Is The Place'), Loop, Spectrum and early Spiritualized, although it doesn't sound dated in the slightest.

They're a group that appreciate the power of melody and formation as much as repetition, so while the likes of 'Miki' are carried along on a bed of constant, undulating sound waves, lead guitar and vocals are also present, adding identity to these expansive pieces. 'Gentle's Yard' is an awesome, vibrating krautrock number that shows the effect additional melody can create. It's hypnotic but you can hum along to it at the same time; a rare quality to discover. However the music was created it sounds purely analogue and this is something which always leaves a vibrant and forceful effect; warmer and more real as well as, oddly, more futuristic than digital. 'Just A Spell' could have graced a Spectrum album and the mesmerising 'The Lost Golden Bough' has a touch of Cheval Sombre to it, himself crafting similar textures. Epic last track 'Everything's Alright Forever' sets the controls for a different dimension though, with clattering drums and an a more compelling sound. 'Dronepop #2' isn't an exercise in invention, it's more a case of keeping the spirit alive; something it manages to do with ease.

Buy the album from Documenta's website

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