Opening track “Casualty” off Dragon Turtle‘s Almanac begins with a soft acoustic guitar and a set of soft backing instruments, from deep drums (tympani perhaps?) and what could even be a clarinet. The strum is prominent, while the rest maintain an ever-present drone. Basking in an immense reverb, the vocals enter just as quietly, echoing across the drone-created plateau. And then it happens: the song nears the midpoint (about 3:40 in) and feedback begins to take over – an incriminating dominatrix, ready to make your wildest and most bizarre fantasies come true.
This mix of drone and epic feedback tugs at you, pulls at your emotions, and pushes on that taunt, paper-thin string that borders your own personal sane reality and the insanity always on the edge of your subconscious. Almanac is by no means what you’d expect from the contemporary, or the commonly accessible. It is an entirely other-worldly beast, alien to many but the most devoted.
Along the lines of (and possibly Influenced by) early shoegaze-based electronica (Klaus Schulze, Cluster), these songs fit the minimalist drone genre, without being entirely minimal. “Moon Fallout” capitalizes on this, with full vocals (albeit soft themselves) and an echoing ethereal guitar. Five minutes in, actual melody takes over and the power is astonishing; Dragon Turtle never fails to blow your mind.
Almanac is, in a sense, like the sea. It is typically calm, but there’s always a storm brewing somewhere, near or far. Sometimes you’re in the middle of it, rain and wind screaming across the former void while waves crash over the hull. At other times the void takes over, a calm and peaceful dream… yet in the distance the clouds are tall and thunder roars in the quiet background. “Island Of Broken Glass” again finds Dragon Turtle with melody, but the band just as quickly drops away to the truly minimal “Hometime”. And “Hourglass” continues somewhere in the middle, between that ever-present drone and a lovable vocal theme.
Aforementioned, Dragon Turtle will blow your mind. Furthermore, they never fail to surprise. “Apophis” keeps that epic, anthemic drone but rather than the typical soft melody-driven vocals, you’re treated with a Serge Gainsbourg-like French beat poet nouveau pop lyrical style. The true surprise: it works. Closing with the soft, clean piano in “Burn The Leaves” is quite fitting. The loud drone has come to an end, climaxing in the track before, and now we’re winding down, a calming atmospheric gratification. The storms have all cleared. It’s just soft, gentle, rolling waves that carry you forth onto the next distant land.
La Société Expéditionnaire [CD, 2009]
2. Belt Of Venus
3. Moon Fallout
4. Organ Fallout
5. Island Of Broken Glass
9. Burn The Leaves