…The Other Doesn’t, one of the latest releases from Kentucky’s Blake Edward Conley under the moniker of droneroom, delivers a consistently deeply moving sonic experience.
Moving through the album feels like slowly and steadily moving down a mostly-abandoned city street as night falls and winds fervently grow. There’s a somber stillness in much of the music that makes the album feel somewhat like an inward-facing mirror, as if the music captures moments of careful, pensive self-reflection. Perhaps this self-reflection unfolds by the light of a flickering campfire, and maybe other moments unfold while standing and peering into an increasingly darkened forest, pondering the comparison of our lives to the grand tapestry of existence in which we’ve emerged.
On …The Other Doesn’t, Conley sounds like he’s unearthing a place of stillness amidst tension. This stillness doesn’t erase preceding turmoil — Conley’s unification of the peace of his unencumbered sound with the tension of his lengthy, persistent contemplations feels quite striking. The songs feel broad and majestic, with lengthy portions of relatively unbroken, poignant tones, but the music doesn’t feel oppressive or burdensome. The openness of the sound, which sticks to the foundation of a Fender Telecaster guitar and Fender Blues Junior amp alongside pedals and drones, feels inviting.
Track one, called “Home Can Be a Frightening Place,” hinges on a steadily crackling, thick tone that feels piercing, like an unstoppable stream of sweltering air. Track two, called “The Inevitable Hitch,” runs on a slightly sharper undercurrent, and the song introduces a pronounced and relatively somber guitar rhythm, which floats along the surface of the song as the hazy drone continues billowing in the background. The album delivers a poignantly rich journey — “The Last Time Someone Speaks Your Name” closes out with a dusty weight in the guitar tone that feels at-home on a windswept plain, and that feeling reappears elsewhere. Tension somewhat takes over the spotlight as the lengthy track “This Circle of Ribs” moves towards its conclusion, and these moments, with a steady electric guitar strum continuing on through the sweltering haze, feel like a soundtrack to fighting with the shadows.
The refreshing directness of the sound, which feels neither chaotic nor relatively broken up, makes the album feel like a portrait of life. Conley captures nuanced shadows beneath the hugeness of the modern world, peace amidst the chaos, and some of those still, less bombastic moments in between the events that generally stick out prominently. The particular tone coursing through this journey — of a peaceful exploration of dusty, leaf-strewn terrain — makes the experience quite poignant.
Listen to …The Other Doesn’t below!