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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Transtilla - Transtilla II [Midira Records - 2019]

Drone as a style of music, is probably one of the most ancient. Monotone & repetive sound are at the roots of shamanism & other religious music and songs, starting with shamanistic rites, folk music, Buddhist mantras and classical Indian music, ending with Gregorian and Orthodox chants. In a modern interpretation, the drone genre is quite diverse. Going from electronic experiments of  the likes of Elaine Radique and the acoustic works of Vibracathedral Orchestra, onto the autistic gloom of Sunn O))) and atmospheric tracks by Dirk Serries.

Dutch Drone-project Transtilla, were formed, seemingly fairly, casually by Anne-Chris Bakker and Romke Kleefstra- who had worked a lot together as part of the experimental project Kleefstra|Bakker|Kleefstra, in which Romke's brother, poet Jan Kleefstra, also participated. During one of the projects sessions, they recorded a track, which was a departure from the projects normally sound. So both Anne-Chris and Romke decided to further develop this direction with a new project, which they christened Transtilla. Currently, there are two full-length albums in the discography of the project. The debut album is simply called Transtilla I, and the project's second album called Transtilla II was released at the end of 2019 by the German label Midira Records. The album was released as a CD and is available for order on the label's website. Also, the digital version is available for order on the project's Bandcamp page.

The album cover is a black and white photo made in a blurry, abstract style. In the blurry black frame, we can see a light rectangle with the same blurry textures. It resembles a photo of a window made from a dark room. But in fact, this object may turn out to be something completely different. There are no inscriptions on the cover, which, in my opinion, is the right decision and maximally emphasizes the amorphousness and abstractness of the picture. The cover is an ideal fit for the musical part of the album, creating a certain mood when listening to music.

The album lasts a little over forty-five,consisting of four tracks. As one would expect all the tracks are rather long and monotonous compositions made according to one principle - selected a certain tone, as the composition develops, it’s surrounded by additional sounds and vibrations, deviating from the main tone by a halftone or tone. Each composition reaches its full development by around the first third quarter of the track, and then goes into decline. But, of course, this simplest description cannot reflect what is presented on the second full-length album of Transtilla. Monotonous Drone is very strongly mixed with atmospheric Ambient and light Noise touches. The drone line is not built around a single note, there is an audible chord that runs through the entire composition. Sometimes it resembles the sound of an accordion or keyboards, and others you can hear the sound of a guitar working with a looper. It is also quite possible that some Drone synthesizers were used when recording. But, in the overall sound picture, I can’t single out any specific instrument. The only thing I can say is that the guitar is definitely used here since Romke Kleefstra as a guitarist. Each composition begins quite minimalistic, however, reaching the culmination of its development, the composition becomes a wall of sound, consisting of vibrations of different frequencies, surrounded by a wall of deep atmospheric ambient. Even though all four tracks are similar in composition, they differ in sound saturation and tonality. I especially wanted to mention the third track entitled "Assemblage 2008". This track is lighter than the rest but contains sound elements explicitly related to Noise and Musique Concrete.

In general, I think this album is successful. It combines the classical Drone, clearly taking its roots in traditional ritual music and the deep Ambient in the best traditions of the classics of the genre. When listening, I felt completely immersed in these droning soundscapes. It's quite difficult to compare Transtilla with any other projects, since most Drone projects are similar to each other, undoubtedly having an individuality. Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is the analogy with the Kleefstra brothers' projects, which is not surprising. But as the closest comparison , I say  Expo'70 and Dirk Serries projects. This album is not an indisputable masterpiece, but it delivers a lot of pleasant emotions to any fan of the Drone / Ambient genre.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Sergey Pakhomov
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