Drone: Colourformoney
My Kung Fu

The type of album where percussion sounds originate from household surfaces and melodies from doctored voice noises, colourformoney is an hour-long debut collection of oft-pastoral electronic sculpting by Drone (Cassidy Phillips). Phillips counts an ancient piece of sound tracking software (Madtracker) as the key component in his minimal setup, but that doesn't stop him from getting the maximum mileage from his gear, no matter how lo-fi it may be. “Waterlillies” is a convincing foray into folktronic placidity, “Hopscotch” tackles melancholic IDM with assurance, and the insistent beat clatter of “Vintage Ptii” hints at a promising dance direction.

There's no doubt Phillips, a self-described “collector and mangler of sounds,” treats the material seriously but there's also a spirited playfulness that the songs can't quite suppress; imagine The Orb as a bedroom project dedicated to crafting miniatures filled with plinkety-plunk melodies (“Ninny”) and rambunctious breakcore (“Bellydance”). Still, one longs, at times, for a little less eccentricity: Phillips' fragile vocalizing in the lightly swinging “Telephone” is obscured by the elastic lashes of electric wires, and the faux-autobiographical voiceover (the last line is “To hell with it: none of this really happened”) in “Etherheart” could be omitted, considering that the song's silken string washes and tinkling melodies would hold up just as well on their own. Much more satisfying is “Cutting Teeth” where a lovely cello-like melody, sometimes doubled by the whispered vocal, floats through the song, proving that sometimes the simplest approach is the best. Give Phillips credit, though, for boldly closing the disc with a 16-minute suite (“Plink Plink Plink”) that nicely balances pretty melodies and understated experimentalism.

January 2007