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Winter Drones - Blood in the Coffin

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Artist: Winter Drones

Album: Blood in the Coffin

Label: Weird Forest

Review date: Mar. 10, 2011


Winter Drones - "Winnie Coopers Bones" (Blood in the Coffin)


Incuriously dubbed Winter Drones, guitarist Leon Dufficy’s project outside the folksedelic Hush Arbors is a promising one. He has a keen sense of what makes a simple guitar drone bloom into the realm of lush adjectives. As soon as the second track, “Winnie Coopers Bones,” settles in, distant parallels begin to form to the omniscient shoegazer himself, one Mr. Shields. But this is a debut album, and there is still much work to be done before any such grand statements can be made. An artistic reincarnate Dufficy may not be, but an auspicious understudy is not out of the question.

“Winnie Coopers Bones” embraces the best principle of My Bloody Valentine: play it crushingly loud, but make sure the distortion shimmers rather than blinds. Dufficy’s massive seesawing riff throbs well amidst the steady march of percussion, wailing overdubs, organ drones and melodic-leaning vocal cues. He has a talent for reining in the feedback just to spiral it back out again. But, of course, this is the 21st century: we have budget restraints, hard drive studios and release quotas limited to cassette tapes, mp3s and limited-run LPs. Dufficy’s song sounds nowhere near the scale of the torrential MBV, but it still sounds damn good ringing from within white ear buds.

Luckily, Dufficy is not a one-trick pony. Blood in the Coffin is a varied affair. The spine-tingling sound that introduces “Bongs Dreams” (somewhere between water being poured, a crackling fire, walking on dried leaves and, yes, perhaps a hearty bong hit) is only the beginning of the goose bumps. The seven-minute track consists of an aurora-like drone that slowly dissolves into soothing melodic guitar meandering. “Death Moon Repries” ratchets up the reverb for a dose of weirdo psychedelic folk. And the closing number, “Two Long Wks Prt. 2” reverts into some good ole’ noisy, albeit off-kilter, rock.

The album’s centerpiece, the 10-minute “Stiff Wizard,” is where Dufficy completely shrugs off my earlier comparison. The wintry drone here is much less shimmering than it is suffocating, and the harmonies pursued are menacingly dissonant. The pressure piles on as the track progresses, and the obligatory tribal drums arise from the frenzy. It’s a promising slab of sound as the climax hits, but the organ and drum groove that takes over stymies rather than erupts. The drums don’t really decide on a rhythm or time signature, and the organ sounds thin compared to the rest of the bellowing noise.

It’s too bad the process of locking a musician like Dufficy in a studio for weeks on end with a bloated budget is all but obsolete. The hypothetical resulting material might just give a 20-year-old sub-genre the adrenaline shot it needs.

By Michael Ardaiolo

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