Friday 17th, July 2020 saw the release of London noise mongers Sly & The Family Drone’s latest long player Walk it Dry. It’s the long awaited follow up to their 2019 album Gentle Persuaders and is an 8 track LP collaboratively released by Love Love Records in the UK and Feeding Tube Records in the US. Recorded at the end of 2018 after a yearlong post-car crash recovery hiatus, the fact that it is finally seeing the light of day during a PANDEMIC is tantamount to a fucking miracle.
I’m ashamed to say that this is my first foray into the sonic assault dished out by Sly & The Family Drone. However, I’ve certainly seen their name on gig posters for what feels like forever, and I’m aware of their ferocious reputation live. Opening with ‘A Black Uniformed Strutting Animal’, this track is no way a gentle introduction into this LP. This track is bloody LOUD! A hypnotic, rhythmic drum beat provides the drive whilst a screeching brass section, distant yelping vocals and experimental electronica just add to the gorgeous weirdness of it all. What an opener!!
Compared to the opening track, ‘Dead Cat Chaos Magician’ is relatively genteel in it’s oddball experimentation. That is until the last minute of the track where we are presented with one of the most inflammatory and frankly beatific episodes of noise skronk that I have ever heard.
‘Swearing on the Horns’ is purely an experimental interlude between the madness of ‘Dead Cat Chaos Magician’ and the pulverising beats of ‘Bulgarian Steel’. And bloody hell this is good. The already familiar brass skronk is ever welcomingly present during this throbbing, and frankly stunning tune. Highlight #1.
‘Shrieking Grief’ is an absolute machine gun drum skronk onslaught that is as magnificent in its unflinching crushing grind as it is in its harsh noise. Brilliantly brutal stuff. ‘Sunken Disorderly’ (great name!) is 5.56 of serene and genuinely relaxing ambient noise and experimentation. Nice. Highlight #2.
‘My Torso Is A Shotgun’ starts with frantic and disjointed soundscapes that progress to being disconcerting and confusing. The machine gun drums and frantic skronk are welcoming, yet the onslaught eventually rescinds. Final track ‘Tsukiji’ is another measured and beautifully constructed track that relies on soundscapes, ambient noise and experimentation. Something that Sly & The Family Drone offer in spades. This LP is the perfect mix of experimentation, soundscapes, pulverising beats, electronica, noise, harsh noise and no-wave influenced skronk. Phew!
This LP may not for everyone’s tastes, but I’m convinced it has something for everyone to hook onto, as long as they have an open mind to music. Personally I can’t wait to see this band live as soon as this madness is over. Just beautiful stuff.
Review by Ioan Humphreys: twitter.com/ioan_humphreys