Dronescape 4 (Requiem for a Planet)
Dronescape 4 is the fourth in a series of albums, containing new, digitally created, compositions by Oscar van Dillen. The works on this album were composed October 2020.
All works and cover art of this album were created by Oscar van Dillen.
Release date for distribution is set to 30 October 2020.
Download the CD booklet HERE
Direct links to popular platforms
The title Dronescape suggests the contraction of the terms Drone and Soundscape, inferring a music which might at first sight be mistaken for ambient only. But not at a hearing: there is mostly a friendly and pleasant surface character to most compositions, but careful listening will reveal less obvious details and sounds, sometimes surprising, at other times perhaps disturbing.
In music, a drone (or bourdon) is understood to be a continuous sound, interval or chord, usually an accompaniment to a modal structure (melodic music based on a particular scale). Special instruments exist, dedicated to playing the drone only, such as the tanpura and the swar peti from India. Instruments are found all over the world that include drones within the melodic instruments themselves, such as the taraf strings on many Asian string instruments, but also the drone pipes next to the chanter in bagpipes, or the hurdy gurdy, and its predecessor the organistrum with their drone strings. Aboriginal didgeridoo music can be considered to consist purely of a rhythmized drone. Traditionally, drones with their sustained pitches are used as a harmonic support to the melodic music performed. In the Dronescapes by van Dillen the music itself has become rhythmized drone and soundscape at the same time, foregoing the traditional compositional hierarchies of theme and accompaniment, by using the following musical elements, in order of prominence: 1. sound 2. harmony 3. rhythm 4. melody. This non-prominence of melody stresses the absence of a traditional theme and accompaniment-oriented music, instead the work moves towards a more inclusive approach. This does not mean there are no developing linear structures, but rather that in a way the album can perhaps be regarded as being semipermeable to outside additions, whether coincidental and random (such as happening when listening outdoor or with windows opened), or improvised, or composed, or even as a large minus one recording, open to be supplemented by the listener, whether in imagined or performed future additional music.
Dronescape 4 (Requiem for a Planet)
Similar to the other Dronescape releases, this album too can be considered to be an Electronic symphony, the 4th by Oscar van Dillen. Even though not its official overall title, this work was conceived as a Requiem for a Planet. The attentive audience can hardly have missed our world has some serious problems to solve?
There are three parts, with a total duration of 1 hour 18 minutes 41 seconds:
- Deliquescence (duration 29 minutes 5 seconds)
- Cauterization (duration 12 minutes 30 seconds)
- Contrition (duration 37 minutes 6 seconds)
Deliquescence uses an evolving complex drone, in part consisting of frozen sound. This remarkable possibility of cutting-edge technology permits the freezing of sound. As we know, moving visuals can be frozen as an image, but when pausing moving audio, a sound recording, there should be silence. Modern techniques however, using artificially intelligently behaving algorithms, now allow for this freezing of sound, without pausing into silence. In such drones, we can perceive a sense of all possibilities present, a sense of music as it appears to a composer when prehearing a composition before its creation: outside of time, timeless music; all audio, everything happening simultaneously instead of sequentially.
More clear than in the earlier Dronescape albums, melody here is used almost from the beginning. It is a floating and hesitating melody, coming in short hovering phrases of a few tones, alternated with long colored silences, ever beginning, never truly ending. All sounds are placed in a microtonal field, which recalls but does not use equal tempered tuning in a strict sense. A similar yet more developed melody, but in a much lower register, features in the third part of this work. The later melody in the third part developed into the direction of more simplicity, as opposed to the classical approach of developing complexity, ultimately based on the by now global ideology of progress.
Cauterization populates the frequencies normally present in music as ambience and the highest overtones and leaves an almost complete silence at the normal register of octaves used in musical notation. This creates an inverted sound space, a temporary partial deafness, which leaves a powerful auditive “after-image” behind for the careful observer. Its twelve and a half minutes make very intense hearing and may be experienced as of similar subjective duration as the other two parts, which are each nevertheless roughly three times longer as measured by a clock.
Contrition uses selected musical and sound elements from both the preceding parts, but develops them further, in its almost classical approach to form. Classical in a sense, but also opposite, because, as mentioned before, here it is simplicity that evolves gradually, opposing the traditional philosophical interpretation of progress. Melody, which is present here as it is in the first part, has moved to such a low register that its sound evokes imaginary animal sounds, entering a terra incognita: here be dragons?
The concluding final drone, a frozen sound, practically lasting forever on the composer’s digital production system, is given form and a finite duration, yet it still encompasses all heard sounds in one, at the same time, and outside of time, void of further development. This is the closest one may come to actually listening inside a composer’s inner hearing perhaps?
The source of the sounds one hears on this album is the very recently developed chaotic oscillator synthesizer Generate by Newfangled Audio, a very complex instrument, at times difficult to control precisely, at other times, in many simultaneous complex instances, threatening to overload the computer, and behaving unpredictably. Some of the unexpected side effects of the complex sound synthesis have been preserved in the end result. A small palette of carefully self-built just manageable sounds (patches) has been used in all three compositions. The complex sound sometimes resembles “real instruments” such as cello, trombone and (contra)bassoon, or bass clarinet, but this is an illusion, as can be heard when it moves through various registers: these are all purely synthetic sounds.
The synthesized basic sounds have been modulated and filtered in a selected number of ways to produce a coherent palette range, resulting in an immediately recognizable sound signature of the work as a whole.
More Dronescapes will be released on OIJ Records when completed. A word of warning: after careful listening, the world around you may not sound the same any longer.
OIJ Records – Donemus DCV 301