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Dirty Knobs - True Norwegian Black Drone (2015) - Review

Band: Dirty Knobs
Album title: True Norwegian Black Drone
Release date: 13 October 2015
Label: Xero Music

01. Gjurtinden Stillheten
02. Eidsfjord Kraken
03. Nattoget Spokelser
04. Selijestad Strom
05. Latefossen Take
06. Gronningheia Bae

Zac Bentz is Dirty Knobs, he recorded this very ambient album throughout Norway and completed the recording in his studio in Duluth, Minnesota. This album content is fitting to its name True Norwegian Black Drone. It is a great combination of what appears to be guitar and bass loops and drones intermingled with synths and many various types of field recordings from wind and storms, to birds and bees. The drones give it just enough emphasis to keep the listener in the correct mood, while the ambient recordings allow for a total immersion.

"Gjurtinden Stillheten" is a very subtle opener to True Norwegian Black Drone. The emphasis is on the ambient sounds. I imagine water crashing on rocks and wind rushing through jagged cliffs as I sit in peaceful meditation on a high rock in a Norwegian fjord. Any drones in this track are very subtle and it has a natural earthy feel through the full 10 minutes. "Eidsfjord Kraken" is more active and seems like an empty or quiet city by the fjord, waters splash as if they are colliding with docked boats, gentle synth lines pulsate through the track. The connection to nature is unbroken as you experience this continued immersion in the coastal areas of Norway. "Nattoget Spokelser" changes pace a bit, upping the intensity and introducing a greater emphasis on the black drone element of this project. A deep dark drone pulses through the track, slowly waxing and waning in its intensity. "Nattoget Spokelser" ends with an unsettling presence in the dark, as if we have entered a cave and there is something inside but yet unkown. "Selijestad Strom" continues to up the intensity with an electric guitar drone slowly increasing in its voracity as water continues to rise and recede in what feels like a shallow cavern. As the intensity grows it becomes quite unnerving as the waters seem to suck the listener in. "Latefossen Take" feels immense. The waves and gentle drones are prevalent holding you in place, feeling the world around you. But something is beginning to seem quite wrong with this picture. The peacefulness no longer remains, then there is a glimmer of hope as a gentle synth takes over, warming us a bit as we watch the immensness of nature encompass us. As if the world has changed "Gronningheia Bae" returns to the peacefulness of the beginning of True Norwegian Black Drone, as if a great and devastating change has occurred, and yet the cycle continues. Pastoral field recordings evoke the images of fields of grasses blowing in the wind, as a bee lands on a flower to extract its prize. A static filled drone creeps in and out, seeming out of place, yet forcing itself upon the land. Domestication is heard, as bells, slowly lead into the sounds of many farm animals, birds, and the clang of metal farm tools. We have returned to the past as a shepherd watching his meager herd. But with the constant flickering reminder of what has happened, and what will once again happen.

Overall True Norwegian Black Drone is quite a relaxing and meditative album. Exquisite use of field recordings carries the listener into the Norwegian landscape feeling it as we listen through the use various instrumentation. It stays true to its name however, as the drones can become rather intense and all encompassing at times, leaving the listener as destroyed as the terrain it is representing, but it slowly returns you to peace in the end with the longest track "Gronningheia Bae" feeling very comforting and familiar. True Norwegian Black Drone falls into an interesting place as it has long periods of quiet ambiance which can lead into devastatingly heavy drones in other tracks. It is definitely worth a listen to most ambient fans. Fans of heavier drone projects will also find some very climactic moments to gorge themselves upon.

Review written by: Michael
Rating: 7.5/10