Drone metal has been around for a quarter-century in one form or another – hat tip to Sunn O))) – but has recently come into its own as not just a genre but a set of techniques that can be combined with the music of other styles. Whether incorporated into electroacoustic, ambient, or classical, a few long-held power chords are rarely out of place.
Here, Mondkopf (Paul Régimbeau) offers up six tracks of overdubbed electric guitar and effects that prominently feature these massive walls of distorted sound. Most of the melodies are strummed and picked with light distortion and what appears to be modest processing or possibly synth. The tone is melancholy and folk-oriented, exploring moods of isolation and loss. In jarring contrast, Régimbeau layers the heaviness over these more minimalistic themes at various points. His chording grinds and wails, modulating the mood in darker directions, closer to anger or grief.
The final track, Continuation, features guest appearances from Frédéric D. Oberland on sax and Tony Buck on percussion. It begins with strummed electric combined with Buck’s signature off-kilter approach. This rapidly evolves into a dense chaos of sound with thick chords, rattling from Buck, and angular motifs from Oberland. It is a fitting and emotional burst – perhaps a cry for help from a void of loneliness – that tops off a markedly compelling release.