Years ago, when I was 16 or 17, I used to love driving around late at night through unfamiliar neighborhoods with the hope of getting lost. There was one neighborhood in particular that my friend John and I would frequent on those late night jaunts. With no grid or any seemingly planned layout, it was perfect. No two corners looked the same, and there were few four-way stops where the streets intersected at 90-degree angles. We would just put on whatever random tape had come in the mail that day and cruise around, shooting the shit for hours. I still love going for long drives, though it's been a while since I actually tried to get lost.
Drunjus are from Madison, Wisconsin, though they sound more like the stuff being put out in New Zealand or on the Jewelled Antler label in San Francisco. Four long soundscapes make up the 58 minutes of their self-titled debut. These pieces are saturated with so many sounds that they surround you, and it's easy to get lost in them. Like a hedge maze, they are confusing and complex, but ultimately you are rewarded for making it through to the other side.
These recordings are long and they're dense, but don't let that intimidate you - they're also very approachable. This isn't the really pretty girl at the bar that everyone is afraid of, this is the cute girl you showed up with whom you've known for years. Various organic sounds dominate these thickly forested landscapes while various instruments create a droning bed for everything to lie on. Track one is dominated by processed keys that can be harsh at times. As they beg and moan, it feels like a buzz saw is massaging your temples. Molasses is less dense than this; it's loud and beautiful. Almost 10 minutes in, it begins to quiet down, indicating it's time to sleep. I keep imagining spectacular images of decaying iron factories when I hear this. It has a highly processed feeling and sense of wonderment the Industrial Revolution did in the 1850s. Yet, over time, the infatuation wore off and buildings began to rot. Abandoned and worn down by time, they are a testament to an era long passed. I love the feeling this piece gives me.
Track three has a similar industrial feeling to it, but it mostly stems from the massive waves of cymbals. They flow and swell like a tsunami of shimmering, metallic sound. It's like an electric table saw cutting through lead pipe. I love how well Drunjus manages to use seemingly harsh noise and turn it into something inviting. I wouldn't go so far as to say it?s melodic, but there is more to this album than just two guys making an uninhibited racket. There's a method to these tracks; they seem orchestrated to peak at just the right time. Layers are continuously added to great effect. This is something I can never get sick of.
My favorite piece, and the one that is most reminiscent of the Jewelled Antler, is track two. Utilizing a wide variety of instrumentation in conjunction with beautiful field recordings of birds, this is best listened to in the middle of the woods on the soft, mossy ground. Seagulls screech overhead while Drunjus creates a watery, musical environment. I feel like I'm sitting with my feet in a slow moving river near the coast. Different effects such as delays are added to the mix, which give this track movement. At times you feel so encapsulated by the recordings that, if you close your eyes, you can smell this ocean-side forest. It's such a well put together track that I cannot find any flaws. Perfectly excellent.
I stumbled on Drunjus somewhat recently and I've been hooked since. Now, if I don't feel like getting in my car and trying to lose myself in this city, I can just put on my headphones and lose myself in this record. Most of us can't just pick up and head to the woods or the coast whenever we want, but because of Drunjus's debut album, the feelings inspired by these exotic locales is always available. 8/10 -- Brad Rose (25 May, 2005)