In my ten years running the label and Foxy Digitalis, I’ve heard a stupid number of drone records. I mean, ridiculous amounts. The vast majority of these albums usually fall into the category of nice enough, but ultimately inconsequential. And hey, I get it – making a truly special album built around drones is a seriously difficult task. In recent years, those great records have become fewer and fewer and I would say that some part of that, at least, can be traced to Growing taking an indefinite hiatus a while back (even if their more recent stuff wasn’t on the level of those first two Kranky records (my god those albums), the void was still there). Well, with said hiatus has come the reemergence, with a vengeance no less, of Kevin Doria’s awesome solo work as Total Life. The first rumble comes care of Debacle on what is, by far, one of the best drone records I’ve heard in a good while, Bender/Drifter.
Over the course of two side-long episodes, Doria is in top form. “Bender” is the buzzsaw. Cutting sonics are like an immovable swarm, opening the listener up for full-on infiltration, a loud virus with teeth. Expansive rifts rise and fall with each cycle through the machine, churning forward through solid ground. There’s so much density here that it’s almost too much… almost. Opposite to its A-Side cousin, “Drifter” ends the statement with a question mark rather than an exclamation. Listing, near collapse, through boundless oceans, it is always seeking the edge, always hoping for one last swan dive into nothingness while leaving utter chaos in its wake. “Drifter” is not there for reconciliation, it will not put any pieces back in place.
Bender/Drifter is simultaneously claustrophobic and infinite. Looking toward the horizon, it seems to extend beyond sight, but it’s just so fucking oppressive that eventually it all turns black. Highest recommendation.