Album Reviews

Droneroom: Whatever Truthful Understanding

The Kentucky drone artist returns with his latest offering.

Kentucky’s Droneroom (a.k.a. Blake Edward Conley), is a drifter. While dubbed many things, including a ‘certified Kentucky Colonel’ make no mistake, this is drone made by a nomadic drifter.

Following the release of 2021’s Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It, Conley returns in 2022 with what could be considered his most panoramic series of sounds with Whatever Truthful Understanding.

The title album’s title derives from the dedication in a book about the history of Conley’s native Kentucky, and was written after his relocation from Louisville to Las Vegas. And sonically through the five compositions which comprise Whatever Truthful Understanding, you can hear the influence of both cities shining through.

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As Whatever Truthful Understanding consists of nature-inspired field recordings, sweltering drones and left-of-centre effects, Conley’s brand of warped drone folk meanderings is also wildly cinematic. While The Jonny Halifax Invocation really honed in on the ideas of the desert drone with his latest LP, Acid Blüüs Räägs : Vol. 1, Conley’s vibe is centred on the more earthy aspects of drone, as country and the blues featuring prominently; the likes of Jake Xerses Fussell and Dylan Carlson loose inspirations.

Conley starts with God Does Not Help Those Who Are Invisible. As the sound of crickets and a series of nocturne noise unfurls, this is drone that captures a summer night in the moonlit desert; the night sky littered with stars, and the only person in that very desert is Conley with guitar and amp in tow. Droning.

Droneroom - Whatever Truthful Understanding

The star gazing continues on Just One More Thing. Whilst also rubbing shoulders with Daniel Bachman (in particular his 2021 release, Axacan), Conley also combs the same orbits as Ben Chasny during Six Organs Of Admittance’s 2020 offering, Companion Rises.

On Mojave Pastoral, the name really says it all. With tumbling percussion and a loose free-jazz vibe, Conley incorporates static voiceovers which create intriguing contrasts. As the commentator visualises and reports of horses, farms and confederate flags, it forms an imagery of America’s underbelly. Here, Conley takes the genre to a place where it doesn’t often explore and the results are positively telling.

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Moving into the realms of mediation, and We Are the Creatures This Desert Makes Us is a sun drenched drone composition that kicks up the dust. It epitomises what the self-professed ‘Cowboy of Drone’ sets out to achieve, while on closing encounter, Beyond the Horse Gate, Conley flips the script by unveiling the album’s darkest moment. This is open road horseback drone with no destination in sight.

In many respects, Whatever Truthful Understanding is all about tones and juxtapositions. Wild arcs and soothing nightscapes, Conley creates his own cinematic haze through the drone. It’s a release that captures the reality and the mundane of the everyday. Throughout these passages of sound, Conley also shows us how dangerous these very facets of life can be.

Whatever Truthful Understanding is out now via Desert Records. Purchase from Bandcamp.

By Simon Kirk

Product from the happy generation. Proud purple bin owner surviving on music, books and LFC. New book, Welcome To Charmsville, available from all major vendors.

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