Dedicated to the memory of photographer François Lagarde – a fellow March Fiver (of 1949) who passed away in 2017 – and to bassist Barre Phillips, this music is both self-explanatory and psychophysically efficient.
It is rare to find albums where the content precisely reflects the title’s suggestions; but Drones is such a case, a record made of long and richly resounding tones emitted from different instruments and sources: double bass, violin, a not better specified “web cello”. Plus – of course – the Tibetan bowls, whose healing energy can be experienced throughout the entire second half of the disc, complemented by JC Jones’ dissonant arpeggios and/or improvisations (the lone non-droning element in the program) on a Spanish guitar operated lap-style. This approach, for those still unaware, was forced in the last three years or so by the bassist’s struggle with an illness that has rendered him unable to keep playing his original (*) instrument. Additional contributors to these therapeutic tracks include Hagai Bilitzky, Ariel Lanyi and Ilan Volkov.
Especially on the longer distance, the music’s mind-enhancing qualities are unarguable. Parts of it remain nearly immobile, exclusively delineated by pitch coloration and constitutional vibrancy. Other pieces present a modicum of linear motion over the slightest harmonic variations. Sometimes the superimpositions produce a “symphonic” chordal suspension of sorts, whereas the chapters featuring the profound murmur of the Tibetan bells need no time to fill the air with their peaceful eloquence. Overall, it’s impossible to isolate episodes lacking even a measure of nerve-cleansing oscillation. We’re left untaught in regard to how the whole was assembled and sequenced; I honestly couldn’t say if there was any editing somewhere. It’s not important, though. What really counts is that, for once, the good intentions have been remunerated by a result that cannot leave a sympathetic listener unconcerned.
(*) JC Jones dixit: “Guitar is my first instrument, bass came along the way 25 years ago“.