First ever vinyl pressing of Yellow Swans’ 2007 noise tempest, practically bubbling the lacquer thanks to a great remaster by Rashad Becker that presents Pete Swanson and Gabe Mindel Saloman right at the biting point.
Originally deployed on ultra-limited edition of just 60 cassettes back in 2007, ‘Drowner’ was one of the legendary duo’s fiercest deployments of scorched earth noise-gaze. Originating at the mid-late point of their arc, it kicked at the embers of rock’s funeral pyre, scattering plumes of strung out psych riffage and charred amp distortion at the midst of the fecund ‘00s noise scene. Like the best Yellow Swans releases, it touches places that other bands and records simply don’t reach, overwhelming the senses with chokingly intoxicating levels of emotion that surely live up to the record’s title.
When Swanson and Saloman cooked up ‘Drowner', they were surfing on a wave of interest generated by the percussive noise surrealism of their acclaimed, politically-fanged 'Psychic Secession'. ‘Drowner' was more in line with the duo's shows - all overdriven, tape-fraying melt and psychedelic, feedback warbling. Channelling everything from MBV to the most blistering ends of Fushitsusha with an apocalypse-baiting recklessness, they harnessed keening, magisterial levels of feeling in the process. Anguish, love, panic, the sheer pain of being; the feeling will alter from person to person and listen to listen, but it’s undoubtedly going to be a strong emotion, likely to be frighteningly intensified when consumed thru headphones.
Between their slow, 11 min march into oblivion on ‘Sandwall’ and eventual collapse into tattered tape tekkers and muezzin-like plangency on ‘Disjecta’, the album feel akin to a religious experience, with atavistic psych echoes of ‘Velvet Water’ giving way to the crushing dirge of ‘First Drowner’ and uniquely elegant chamber noise of ‘Isolation Tank’, before ripping your guts out in the ravishing ‘Seafloor’.
Almost 15 years after it was originally released, as the US basement noise scene fades into memory and many of its figureheads wash into the gutters of history, ‘Drowner’ feels more vital and needed than ever. An elegy for the end of days?