Friday, May 15, 2015

Andrew Drury, The Drum

When is a drum not a drum? The answer is never, unless perhaps it serves as a coffee table or is dismantled into tiny pieces. Yet the formidable modern drummer Andrew Drury makes us think of this question on his matter-of-factly titled recent album The Drum (S&S 50002).

Why? Because he has recorded this entire album bit-by-bit, experimenting with unusual ways of making a single floor tom give out with sounds entirely untraditional. The result is a fascinating and challenging series of sound poetics, unearthly sounds made live on the single drum.

Drury scrapes, rubs, blows into and does all manner of other performative things to give us a myriad of possibilities incorporating the natural resonance of the instrument and the sheer visceral makeup of drum heads and wooden shell.

It takes some getting used to, the premises of the project. But after a period of adjustment the listener enters a sound world both somehow familiar yet radically unfamiliar.

It is expressive sound sculpture you hear more than "drumming," and of course that is the point. Nobody to my knowledge has done so thorough and creative a job unveiling the untraditional sound possibilities and working to create a series of aural segments, each unique.

The music gotten by these means seems to be both very primal and ultra-avant, noisy but resonantly acoustic. It is a rather amazing album that can be appreciated only on its own terms. This is not an extended version of "Caravan" or "Sing, Sing, Sing!"

If you are open to something surprisingly different and are willing to let your ear explore the exotic timbral unfolding, this one will give you much to appreciate. Otherwise, you might find it puzzling. Very new music is like that...

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