Kyle Bates is the man behind shoegaze/drone project Drowse, whose new yolk-filled video “Break” marks the first single from his upcoming Memory Bed EP. After co-writing two songs (“Stay Cold” and “Salt Water”) for labelmate Miserable’s new LP, Bates is back to releasing his own music, and it has certainly taken a turn for the dark. No longer attached to the heavy reverb that defined his previous work, Drowse wrote and recorded “Break” with one microphone, a laptop, and an acoustic guitar. With that said, its thin recording does not hinder the overwhelming or invasive effect of the track as a whole.
In the style of fellow Portland drone artists like Grouper and Velvet Cacoon, Drowse prioritizes music over lyrics, using vocals not to tell a story as much as add an instrumental layer to the music’s soothing fog. Barely any words are intelligible on this slow-building burner, whose most distinctive plot point occurs at the “break” a few minutes in. At this moment, the strum that opened the track falls victim to many coats of organs, synths, and unidentifiable noise groaning in the distance. In the video, this climax finds Bates and Maya Stoner (who provided vocal accompaniment on the song) cracking eggs on each other’s head — later, we see this in reverse.
Drowse explains to SPIN over email, “‘Break’ offers scenes from the past year of my life, using the question ‘Who am I?’ as both a rallying cry and statement of defeat. The title refers to a ‘mental break’ I once had that led to a detachment from the physical world.” These existential ideas of health and reality guide Drowse’s upcoming EP, out August 5, a work that is likely to please fans of philosophy and shoegaze alike.
Check out the video for “Break” and tour dates below.
July 16 – Portland, OR @Analogue
July 20 – Eugene, OR @ The Wandering Goat
July 21 – Oakland @ the Night Light
July 22 – Sacramento, CA @ TBA
July 24 – Los Angeles, CA @ Part Time Punks
July 25 – San Luis Obispo, CA @ 2007
July 26 – San Fransisco, CA @ TBA
July 27 – Santa Cruz, CA @ The Blue Lagoon
July 28 – San Jose, CA @ TBA
July 29 – Ashland, OR @ TBA
Aug 5 – Portland, OR @ The High Water Mark (EP Release Show)