The U.K. group Sly & The Family Drone sound exceptionally captivating on their new album Walk It Dry. Their music blends noise rock ferocity with extended, contemplative segments that sound like they’re drawn from immersive ambient music and/or something like free jazz, since there’s also a saxophone in the mix.
The rhythms across Walk It Dry fall into and out of each other. Sometimes, like on the tracks “A Black Uniformed Strutting Animal” and “Shrieking Grief,” the tumult falls back a bit and something like a captivating drum rhythm bursts forth — but the main bulk of the strikingly finely tuned chaos always feels close.
On the drum and sax-focused “A Black Uniformed…”, which opens the album, the rhythms feel especially off-kilter — there’s energetic propulsion but also a whole lot of instability. Ominous electronica populates a good deal of the album’s runtime, like on “Dead Cat Chaos Magician,” which features bubbling electronic atmosphere punctuated by brief drum blasts and hazy wisps of saxophone. There’s an industrial strength to the methodically repeating pummeling on the aptly titled “Bulgarian Steel,” and the album’s dynamics go on from there, through the foreboding, drum-driven sonic avalanche of “Shrieking Grief,” the atmosphere-oriented “Sunken Disorderly,” and beyond. The intensity seems to come to a head on “My Torso Is A Shotgun,” on which most of the album’s elements make a simultaneous appearance.
Listening feels strangely anxious and simultaneously strangely liberating, like progressing through the album as a listener could be compared to contorting oneself to fit inside of a box and then bursting forth, over and over again. There’s always enough uncertainty in the music that Sly & The Family Drone sound like they’re performing with the weight of a vast amount of energy behind them, and the songs feel constructed so that no note feels wasted. Every moment seems to point towards that sort of metaphorical great beyond.
Really, it’s a wonder that the musicians behind this creation are able to hold the album together like they do. The energy of their performances feels essential to the cohesion, but so does the sheer adventure of the music. The group veers between careful musical contemplation that feels like a settling fog and fiery blasts of groove that feel like sudden lightning strikes flashing across the surface of the songs. Sly & The Family Drone spend enough time at each end of the spectrum — and with both sides presented right alongside one another — for all of the components to feel very aptly developed. Listening leaves the sense that there’s always going to be something new to find in here.
Check out Walk It Dry below! This latest offering from Sly & The Family Drone is available now via Love Love Records in the U.K. and Feeding Tube Records in the U.S.