There is a time for being young, explosive, for splitting the rage through the microphone in a smokey teen party and kissing madness with an unreasonable passion. There is no time to be old, cold, dead. There is no future.
In 1996, Droneghost was on stage as a punk band singer, expressing his high-pitched mood in front of an overheated Catalan audience. Today, no more long hair, no more black leather on the shoulders, because Einstein, another punk, warned us one hundred years ago: time and energy are relative; as the years unfold, the scream fades.
Then what’s left? Droneghost is still wearing his striped shirts from the past, a great sign of survival, and the angry vocals became electronic laments.
In 2007, he released his first album Esperant La Nit under the moniker “Nigul”, a 100% dark ambient project which had an impact on his temper: it calmed him down, at least on the surface, transforming the outer energy into deeper inner creations. With bees saying there is nothing sexier than a hardcore musician who turns deep, it was potentially an improvement.
Then came the beat: in 2014, the Spanish artist released Cosmic Danger, including Brain Socket, an immense track with hypnotic kicks & evasive dreamy sounds, almost childish, almost a renewal… It marked the start of his prolific techno saga under the moniker “Droneghost”, extended with an avalanche of DJ mixes, tracks & remixes for quality labels, such as Circular Limited & Systolic.
“Nigul” is still alive: Droneghost never kills his past characters. Both figures coexist together like a tow-faced Gemini, with one emerging more than the other depending on the inspiration. Both figures found a way to complement each other, offering us rich ambient pieces, atmospheric techno and cinematic tracks.
Yes, the big screen also finds its place inside Droneghost’s music: the album “The party“, released on cassette in 2017, could have been a soundtrack: “Blended Souls” recalls Eric Serra’s particular percussions – noticed also in “Kodo” from another EP – and “Invitation” definitely reminds the nerve-wracking scores from the scary movies.
Today, the timelines of Droneghost’s social medias are full of sounds from him, from other artists, and suddenly an intruder: a YouTube video which makes you instantly jump up to the roof with a super hardcore trash metal guitar riff… It’s particularly surprising that the man can at the same time talk to you about “peaceful mantras” and other super nice Buddhist mottos…
This is Droneghost, a punk in electronic music…
OUR TOP 3 OF DRONEGHOST’S MUSIC
Chart established from his first release until the publishing of this review, in April 2020.
Droneghost – Incantation EP [Circular Limited, 2018]
When the shaman hits the drums, he or she is looking for a connection to a specific brain wave, with the goal to communicate with the spirits from inwards. The mesmerising percussions in each track of the EP, combined with deep & subtle textures, fulfil the promise: the listener witnesses a shamanic incantation in four steps, which can potentially help to transgress the rules of reality and experience the same trance reached by the artist while making the tracks.
Droneghost – Cicle [Circular Limited, 2016]
“Cicle” means “Cycle” in the Catalan language, a term engraved inside the definition of “hypnotic techno”, next to “circle”, “repetitive”, “loop”.
The track is more atmospheric than hypnotic though, so the cycle might be elsewhere…
Droneghost lives in Mollet del Vallès, a small town near Barcelona with both medieval & postwar architecture, creating a curious contrast between warm & sinister vibes. If you bring your ear closer, you might hear a long lament from the Catalan artist. If not, play the track: you’ll find inside the expression of a difficult cyclic battle.
Droneghost – Curse 3 [drnghst, 2019]
The usual introverted mantra developed through profound sonorities suddenly opens up to a much wider soundscape. Sure, “Curse 3” is dancefloor-oriented, but it also represents a certain self-confidence nice to hear: the complex texture, often made of field recordings and groovy percussions, is set in front for once. No epic pad, no scream, no lament. The tension rises after the first break but never dominates. Maybe Droneghost’s biggest curse is exactly that: experiencing life without any doubt & fear, riding in a tumultuous river and accepting, with certain violence, to be carried away by the current. Ain’t an easy task for a punk…
A MIX YOU SHOULDN’T MISS
With such a rich inner world, the talented producer is also very inspired behind the decks, designing extremely beautiful & intriguing deep journeys, without artifice, without showing anything else than his true dedication to music. It’s particularly obvious when listing his infinite amount of recorded podcasts. Many of them come from running a radio show since 2012, with almost 300 programs done up to date. As if it wasn’t enough, the artist has also organised a festival in his (rare) free time since last year.
It’s on top of these numerous experiences that you are invited to listen to his contribution to the notorious podcast “On The 5th Day”, and the least we can say is that you’re in good hands: no clash of melodies, no single technical mistake which could deviate your route out of the journey; no salt but lots of pepper inside the rich system. You can get lost in it safely and enjoy the spicy soundscapes made of intriguing atmospheres & surprising percussions, starting from the intro: the mix opens up with deep & peaceful rhythms, breaking the common pattern of the ambient start. Followed by the escalation of a mesmerising tension to the awakening offered by the dark outro, the immersion is instant and time flies very fast until the end.
(Please buy the tracks to support the underground scene with us)
1. Eyvind Blix – Transmitter Of Visual Property [Aarden Records] 2. s. soo – VIII (9beats Remix) [Circular Limited] 3. Randoom – Ikigai [Doppt Zykkler] 4. Nthng – Sighting Of An Angel [Mörk] 5. Relic Radiation – Outermost [Annulled] 6. Pvrv. – Eco Visual [Circular Limited] 7. Droneghost – Curse 3 [drnghst] 8. Discknocked – El Último Hablante [Doppt Zykkler] 9. Svarog – Night Production [Affin LTD] 10. Stigr – Virtual Vortex [Aarden Records] 11. Einox – Unusual Circulation [Circular Limited] 12. Thorm – High Tech Low Life [Systolic] 13. Doctrina Natura – Mushrooms [Aarden Records] 14. A Thousand Details – Framing Gods [Reaktivate] 15. The Alchemical Theory – Iniziazione [Annulled] 16. Masashi Sueyoshi – Black Night [Aarden Records]
INTERVIEW ON A SELECTED TOPIC
Droneghost shares with us his creative process.
You were doing a lot of ambient tracks before with your project Nigul. What did you learn from this experience and how does it influence your current productions?
I have made music under different names, Nigul is my oldest project, active since 2005, still alive but with less activity, as you wrote. This project has allowed me to experiment and learn different sound design techniques. An example would be the use and manipulation of field recordings to create drones and sound textures, which is a resource I use a lot with Droneghost. On the other hand, Nigul is the project with which I have given more concerts and, consequently, the one I have experienced the most when it comes to playing and presenting my music live. The idea behind Droneghost came a bit from transferring everything learned with Nigul, to the techno language, a more restrictive and closed style in terms of structure and form, although equally open to experimentation.
Bring us in your mind while creating “Curse 3”: from how the idea was raised until its technical application.
Most of my tracks have a similar structure, they start with a few elements and little by little others are added to create “the body” of the track. In that sense, “curse 3” is an exception since it starts directly with the full pattern and with all its elements. I don’t usually start with a clear idea of what I want, but playing with some sounds and letting myself go when I get something that I like allows me to get an idea of where I want to take it, and I follow up working in that direction. In this case, I started with that pattern of the beginning that is evolving and changing slowly, a pattern that also contains layers of field recordings that give it texture. Then those second hats appear, which, in my opinion, give a classic techno touch to the track. In general, I like linear and minimalistic structures in techno music; I try to produce taking the DJ into account, and this kind of structure gives to the DJ more freedom to mix and manipulate it to his/her liking.
Regarding your mix “At the 5th place”, what has been your creative process?
The creative process when recording podcasts is always similar. Unlike when working on regular DJ sets, when I record podcasts I usually do the track selection first, trying to find consistency between them. When I play live, the sets are much more varied. I usually play my DJ sets with Ableton Live, because it allows me to configure the effects as I want, apart from the possibility of being able to add more tracks with my own sounds and loops, or adding a drum machine or some synth. In this way, I see my sets as hybrids between the DJ set and the live set. Although I’ve been playing vinyl for more than 20 years, this format with Ableton is the one that I found the most comfortable and gives the best results for me.
Please introduce us to your radio show: how did you start this project, which concept do you try to bring and what do you feel & experience by running it?
As you mention, I’m currently presenting a radio show called “Núvol de Fum” (Cloud of Smoke) on the local radio of my city. It started simply as a practice of my sound studies and in the end, I have been on the air for eight years, yet with almost three hundred programs. The concept is also very simple; I play ambient music, drone and similar styles and present it briefly. In this sense, I do not delve much into theorising about music and its concepts. The idea is just to present the tracks, the artist, and let the music speak for itself. I’m not much into the idea of experimental music needing great explanations to be understood: music has to speak and cause feelings on its own. Last year I managed to organise a small festival with four guest artists playing live here in my city, and I was hoping to repeat the event this year, but due to the current pandemic, it has been cancelled and I’m organising another one online with two friends. I love live ambient music, concerts and festivals, although dance music takes the cake. I think that it’s important to support these kinds of smaller events.