Review Summary: The minimalistic drone of minimalistic drone.
Aaron Turner was an extremely busy man in 2009, turning out three albums and not to mention running a record label (Hydra Head Records), representing with each new release everything great about the direction in which metal is going today. One of the three releases from Turner comes in the form of one of his many side-projects that seems to somewhat override classification once again. Secret House
could be considered minimalistic drone, but with it’s naked parts showing too explicitly, it’s hard to imagine how Jodis can move forward with this type of sound. However, minimalistic drone would be a description worth two words for the band and Jodis proves how drone can lack so much variety and yet be somewhat fulfilling at the same time.
I would really like to get this out of the way first: Upon first listen, you will come screaming into this forum with comments like “Every song sounds the same!”, while the most elitist elite might retaliate with, “You just don’t get it”. Take it from me; every song on here could have really just been summed up on a three track E.P. However, after a few a careful listens, it’s safe to say that you will get the sense that the sluggish repetitiveness can be rather rewarding when listened to in the right mood. As you might have guessed by now, the density that seems to go hand in hand with more drone bands (Nadja) is completely flipped upside down, exposing the bare bones of drone metals fundamental structure.
Throughout the seven tracks presented, Jodis stick to single note ring-outs with a good dose of feedback that is backed perfectly by Aaron Turner’s cryptic singing abilities, stirring up high levels of melody as each track creeps forward. By creeping forward, what is really meant is that these songs are single movements in themselves that shape-shift more than they progress through transitions. Because the songs act as moulding blobs, every other instrument acts an accent rather than as a rhythmic movement. Take for the example the use of drums throughout each track, using tom-tom fills as a modulation rather than as a steady rhythm or a point where transition must begin. This can be a bit tedious at first because of the songs unconventional approach, but let these tracks sink you into hypnotic bliss and you will see what I’m driving at. One other noteworthy aspect to the album is the use of gruff vocals by Turner who puts a violent sway into the songs, intensifying their distress and unreal restraint as if he were building something up to tear it all back down again. This works particularly well with the few songs he does growl on and adds some much-needed human emotion to the plodding nature of each tune.
Referring back to the album moving forward in terms of sound, this is the reason why highly experimental stuff such as Secret House
is strictly left for side projects only. It would be hard for Turner, or any other artist, to pump out three solid releases in one year without a slight misstep. Don’t let this fool you though, Secret House
is still above average drone metal and anyone interested in the sub-genre should take note of this wonderful side project.