Cassette Corner: Jay Tholen - "The Low Drone of Earth"

Jay Tholen - The Low Drone of Earth
(2013 Swan City Sounds)
"Who knew that prog-rock and chiptune could work together so well?"

Here's something you don't see everyday: a slick, well produced mini-epic...released on cassette! It's been some time since the indie industry has seen an album as audacious, complex and expansive as of Montreal's double LP classic Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?, and this unassuming run of fifty cassettes just might prove a rival. Pulling out all stops and combining a slew of unrelated influences, Jay Tholen's The Low Drone of Earth is as cluttered an unstable as the spherical mass on its cover, but that's what makes its so interesting. You can pick out certain elements and nuances each time you listen, even in the album's more repetitive and lengthy sections. In his already illustrious discography including many video game soundtracks, this could very well be his standout work.

His work on video game scores actually spills over quite a bit into The Low Drone, but it's like milk spilling into your plate of cookies. Who knew that prog-rock and chiptune (8-bit music) could work together so well on "Before the World Began"? The result is a combination between Animal Collective's jittery electronics and the Antlers' moody tone. (The vocals kinda remind me of the Antlers as well) Surprisingly, these lyrics let the song function as one of the few indie Christian tracks I've heard, with the theme of Christ stepping in for "a death that should have been mine". This surprise is a pleasant one, as few quality artists these days are willing to express their Christianity. "Alone In A Cave" is my favorite track on the album, a Krautrock-y jam that chugs along with an electronic groove and serves as The Low Drone's centrifugal song. Overall, this is a pretty sweet album with only a few minor flaws. Not a bad buy. Listen to it below.