ALL TOMORROW'S PARTIES RECORDS SET TO RELEASE
THE DRONES HAVILAH OUT ON FEBRUARY 17, 2009
"Let their sodden, anti-anthemic rock make you feel like a giddy kid stumbling upon something for the first time all over again." – PITCHFORK 8.4 (Gala Mill)
"The Drones are more than salvation for the waiting faithful, they're taking the form forward." - ROLLING STONE
The new world of The Drones is an exotic place, one populated by dark corners, rarely explored avenues, sparse canvases and dense, exhilarating peaks and troughs - and that's just the neighbourhood surrounding their recording studio.
Actually it's not just a studio. It's a house in the middle of a forest that the Melbourne band's singer Gareth Liddiard and bassist Fiona Kitschin, his partner, discovered in January this year and decided to make their home. Once settled, they realised it was also the perfect setting to record The Drones' fourth album, Havilah, which will be released in Australia by ATP Recordings on February 17, 2009.
The splendid isolation in which Havilah was created lies in the foothills of Mt. Buffalo, once goldfield territory, outside the town of Myrtleford in country Victoria.
In February Liddiard began writing new songs for the album there. Two months later guitarist Dan Luscombe, The Drones' most recent addition, and drummer Michael Noga joined Liddiard and Kitschin to rehearse the new material.
Then producer and engineer Burke Reid (The Mess Hall, Gerling) lugged his recording gear through the door and off they went - two weeks flat out - until it was done.
"It's like a little world unto itself in the forest," says Liddiard. "It's a beautiful place. You can't always find a good spot to record, but if you can find a house like this that's a bonus."
Havilah, like everything The Drones have done, is an album of contradictions, where bombast meets beauty, melancholy wrestles with violent guitars and singer Liddiard's incendiary voice lights up his angular poetry, this time on the nature of, in no particular order, the moon ("Penumbra"), divorce ("The Drifting Housewife") and the acquisition of godlike power and the cult of John Frum ("I Am the Supercargo").
It's an album that's brimful of the innovation and artistic integrity that has made The Drones one of Australian rock's most critically acclaimed acts here and overseas during the past four years.
It was that spark of originality and blunt-edged chaos that won the Melbourne band the inaugural Australian Music Prize in 2006 for their breakthrough album Wait Long By The River and Your Enemies Will Float By and it's that same spark that earned them honors as JamBase's New Favorite Band back in 2006.
That same need to push boundaries took them to an old mill in Tasmania to record the follow-up album, 2006's award-winning Gala Mill, and in 2009 their invention, innovation and isolation have combined to produce the fireworks of their most accomplished work to date, Havilah (the name, in case you didn't know, refers to a biblical land near the Garden of Eden and the valley in which the album was recorded).
There are vaguely familiar nods to Neil Young's paint-stripping guitar spasms on "Supercargo" and "Oh My," while the deliciously meandering pop dirges of Suicide and the Velvet Underground echo in "Careful As You Go" and "Luck in Odd Numbers."
It's melancholic, certainly, but Havilah, in its tone and its delivery, is also a celebration. It's a more positive statement than its predecessor.
"Gala Mill is pretty fucking depressing," is Liddiard's take on that particular work. "It's not like going on a summer holiday. This time we were ready for something that was less of an ordeal every time we had to play it. And I wanted to write songs that were a bit more abstract, so you can make up your own mind about them."
Once you've been around these 10 songs for a few hours, it's not hard to make up your mind about them. They are bold. They are romantic. And they are dangerous.
Check out "Oh My" from Havilah right here:
1. Nail it Down
2. The Minotaur
3. Drifting Housewife
4. I am the Supercargo
5. Careful as You Go
6. Oh My
7. Cold and Sober
8. Luck in Odd Numbers
10. You're Acting Like it's the End of the World
The Drones tour dates available here.