Everything about this release has been meticulously thought about, the minutiae of detail is formidable to the point of being pedantic but for a geek like me it was extremely well appreciated and admirable. The whole double vinyl package is superb and whilst the music is obviously the crux of whether a release is any good or not, and it is, what the band has done is brilliant, packaging the gatefold sleeve in a sealed aluminium bag that can be click sealed when you put the vinyl back in after playing it, but also comes with physical data about the sleeve plus every song has the durations down to the hundredth of a second, which may seem ridiculous but I loved it.
However, what about the music from this unique US experimental noise act, well I can say that taking this release put me beyond my comfort zone. Indeed I was beyond that and as I sat to play it there was a nervousness associated with a band you know nothing about as I charged headfirst into the sonic bitumen that Drose completely envelops the listener with. In effect this is a compilation release comprising the “Boy Man Machine” album from 2016, the “A Voice” seven inch from 2012 and three unreleased tracks. The first two releases have been remastered whereas the unreleased songs are not being sandwiched between those two. First up is the 2016 album release and immediately the listener is thrust into a world of texturized vocals, which possess anguish riddled groans accompanied by slow permeating beats and background noises delicately infusing the mix with that experimental ethos within the opener “The Unraveling” and “An Idol”. The creepiness that this album unfurls is terror stricken, brandishing a stark and desolate melancholy as a slow beat drifts out from “A Loss”. The clean vocal wailing is a facet and asset of this whole mixture of material as the isolated drum work produces an industrial toning. When the guitar enters the fold it is saturated in dissonance, yet highly controlled as the density is enlarged.
Is it actually possible to enjoy music like this or just experience it is up for debate as the bands song writing experiments with various effects within the bleak template of the musical output. The pained vocals can be felt on “Numerical Control” whereas “Mechanism Is Lord” wields a vitriolic assault both vocally and musically as the songs pulsing energy is peppered with oppressive down tuned riffing. The desolation and barren atmosphere one experiences with these songs is inherently grief stricken as the unique vocals embed an aura of distress throughout. I’ll admit to preferring the industrialised machinations of songs like “The Man” with its pulverising opacity and rancorous torment of “A Change” as the original album closes with the wretched melancholy of “His Reflection”, a song drowning in doom laden misery with those disturbing vocal elements.
Recorded in late 2018 the unreleased tunes retain the bleakness of the album but divert the vocals to a smoother and cleaner approach but still possessing that mournful suffering tone on “Mine”. The song has a pervading density too that runs into the other two unreleased tracks that compounds the sorrow producing a haunting atmosphere that continues on “A Room”. The slower solemnity is intrinsically disturbing as the song shifts focus both musically and vocally cohesively that leads into the massive distortion lead “The Tapping” where that disturbing nature is escalated hugely and leaves only the tracks of the 2012 seven inch to finally devastate your soul.
“A Voice” is backed by machine like noise assisted by a dense melody that is simplistic in delivery but morose in intensity as whispered vocals are loosely added before “”My Face” switches the focus to a molasses driven riff and relatively upbeat tempo and those clean vocal orchestrations that are crucial to the album. There is an unsettling approach to “A Cry” with its low bass like tones and repetitive structuring creating an uneasy and disturbing feeling again that leaves only “Knuckle” to wholly corrupt your essence as it begins with a simple drum beat and isolated vocal. The burst of guitar work is jarring but focused and dissonant which perfectly ends this intense, disconcerting, disquieting and immersive sonic experience.
(7.5/10 Martin Harris)