Light Mirror Released

Light Mirror is released today! Isolation and vulnerability.
This album marks the first time I’ve been able to translate my intention directly into sound, not fighting against my microphones and computer, but working with them to create something I am deeply proud of. The year of obsession is over. “What is it that resonates in us in response to noise brought to harmony?”

Drowse Light Mirror Cover Art by Norah Fuchs

“Bipolar 1” Music Video

The music video for “Bipolar 1” from Light Mirror is out. I worked on this video obsessively for about a month last December, I’m very proud to be able to share it with you.

This song came to me while I was re-reading my medical chart and thinking about my bipolar 1 diagnosis. I have always resisted this diagnosis and I refused to take Lithium after the first couple of years. I resist it because I am scared of it. It fits too perfectly. As a result, I never sleep very well and sometimes have paranoid delusions (“voices in the night”) that I hide from others.

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“Bipolar 1” is largely about the manic self of bipolar disorder, a version of Kyle that feels totally alien to me when I try to remember periods of life when he was dominant. The manic side of me finds “god”–meaning in life–in music, but the depressed side sees this as a delusion; Drowse songs are identified as “fence posts:” when I write these songs I feel safe because I am creating my own world, in turn working on this music builds a fence around me that closes me off further from other people.

The video was initially utilized–with Light Mirror in mind–for my installation work, Second Self, which was developed and exhibited during a residency at Studio Kura in Fukuoka, Japan. It was created through my practice of internal mapping, in this case cataloging physical things my unconscious self was drawn to while walking. Visual patterns emerged as hours of footage were edited down to this four minute piece. The footage was ripe with images of (self) deception–smoke and mirrors.

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“Light Mirror” LP

Drowse Light Mirror Cover Art by Norah Fuchs

“Between Fence Posts” is streaming everywhere now, listen and read about it on Stereogum.

The simplest questions are often the most difficult to answer.

In April of 2018, Drowse’s Kyle Bates left his home in Portland, OR for an artist residency in barren northern Iceland. Much of Bates’ time there was spent in self-imposed isolation, giving him ample space to ponder the nature of solitude, and what it means to be “closed” or “open” to the world. Upon returning home, Bates worked obsessively. Maya Stoner, his longtime creative partner, sometimes came to sing, but recordings where mostly done alone. The dichotomy of his Icelandic musings materialized in a very real way as he neglected his personal relationships in favor of his art. While he was confronting his life-long fear of intimacy, and reconciling himself to a diagnosis of Bipolar 1, Bates found that the means he employed to conquer these obstacles—self reflection through art—carried with them an equal measure of misery. Light Mirror, Drowse’s second album for The Flenser, is a subtle exploration of these contradictory attitudes and their consequences that can be heard as an artifact of sonic self-sabotage.

Light Mirror falls within a lineage of overcast Pacific Northwest albums (think Grouper’s Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill), but finds Drowse pushing past its slowcore roots. The album’s prismatic sound reflects experimental electronic, noise pop, black metal, krautrock, and more through Kyle’s distinct song-worlds. The lyrics are ruminations on the idea of multiple selves, identity, paranoia, fear of the body, alcohol abuse, social media, the power of memory, the truths that are revealed when we are alone, and the significance of human contact. They were influenced by filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky and poet Louise Glück, who both address self-contradiction. Mastered by Nicholas Wilbur (Mount Eerie, Planning for Burial) at the Unknown, the album showcases a striking maturation in sound. Light Mirror is Drowse’s most intimate and desolate work to date.

 

Drowse Light Mirror Press Photo Kyle Polaroid 1 crop Matt Vrvilo

The special edition includes a replica of the production journal Kyle Bates kept while recording Light Mirror alongside a short story written during the same time period. Interspersed with anxious personal digressions, the journal is a vivid glimpse into the artist’s process. The story speaks to the album’s themes and serves to deepen its world.

Light Mirror will be out june 7th 2019.

Pre-order.

Bandcamp.

Europe.

 

Japan Artist Residency Journal

A collection of moments from my residency in Itoshima, Fukuoka, Japan.

 

Japan residency week one:

I arrived in Fukuoka exhausted; with a tired sense of wonder I ventured out into the city late at night and my phone quickly died. I was lost and without the language to communicate–I felt free. The next night I saw some psychedelic bands and had a stunted conversation about Can. I saw some head-spinning work at the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum and then took the bus to Itoshima: the quiet coastal town where I am living in a traditional rural home with two other artists.
During the day I drift around the countryside shooting video and work on a solo set for the shows I’m playing here. At night I drink Japanese whiskey, drone out, and try to write. I’m not entirely alone but it’s close enough.

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Japan residency week two:

This week was largely spent indoors with my music equipment spread out across the tatami mats on the floor of my room, practicing the live versions of new Drowse songs for the show. My first show in Japan felt like a true accomplishment–I played an entirely new set with a new setup, alone in front of room of people who had mostly never heard my music. I got lots of good feedback, some of the other artists came to watch me, and the other bands were so cool, from Maru303 with his modular synth trances to Kelp with their psychedelic, heavily experimental jazz.
After the show the people in Kelp took me out to drink and we wound up at a sushi bar at two in the morning. Standing there, drinking highballs and eating sashimi, talking music and literature while not totally understanding each other, and basking in leftover light from the show filled me with an indescribable warmth.

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Second Self Postcard:

Here is a flyer/postcard and description for Second Self, another Drowse show in Japan happening this weekend–it is an interactive audiovisual installation I’ve been working on this past month. It features twelve minutes of audio and video work that will be manipulated live and presented alongside twelve pages of writing. This show precedes and compliments a collection of new music I will be releasing next year.

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Japan residency week three:

I completed and exhibited my installation, Second Self,–twelve minutes of video and sound, 3,520 words–and gave a short talk about it (thanks to Katsura for translating). It was awesome to see all of the other exhibitions; I was also lucky enough to go to two pretty incredible shows, Acid Mothers Temple with Macmanaman, and my friend’s baroque/noise project, 密笑. Tonight I got to have a sake filled Christmas Eve dinner with my friends from Kelp (who also play in Macmanaman, and 密笑). A week of hard work and sensory overload.

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Japan residency week four:

The week began in a post-exhibition glow; I spent my last days in Itoshima biking around, journaling on the beach, and finishing up a new music video. Soon it was time to pack up my gear and head to Tokyo, where I stayed in a hostel in Koenji for five days. I had amazing luck with shows and was able to see Boris with Michio Kurihara, (they played almost the entirety of one of my favorite albums, Rainbow) as well as Keiji Haino (who at 66 played a wildly experimental set for three hours strait). I also went to a depressing exhibition called Catastrophe and the Power of Art at the Mori art museum, which clashed with my heightened mood: a grounding reminder of the sadness that never seems to be far from my chest.
On New Year’s Eve I stayed up to watch the sunrise on the roof of my hostel. As the giant ball rose above Tokyo’s skyline, I reflected: maybe years change like mood cycles, 2017 was one of the darkest years of my life, while 2018 was one of the greatest–I toured a ton with people I was close to (starting with SXSW), put out two records (one with Drowse, one with Floating Room) and a split, played shows and did residencies in Iceland and Japan, and made lasting friendships with people from all over the world. There will be a new Drowse record coming out that I am extremely proud of–I can’t wait to share it with you.

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