"Stella" is a split release between Hourglass Drops and Norss, both from the Netherlands. I honestly had no idea what I was getting into with this release. Usually, based on the track lengths, artwork, artist's name or some other clue you can get a hunch as to what the sounds might be. The packaging gives away no clues and the first track of this release is not something that immediately ropes you in or gives you a clue what you're in for because the first four minutes or so it sounds like a sample of wind in canyon or a beach at night perhaps. Maybe this might be a grim intro to some cold black metal? Eventually, the "sample" begins to twist and flip and distort a little bit. I begin to have a feeling this was a minimal drone album... and I am right. Sustained tones and sounds make up the majority of this release. Long sonic blocks in 4 dimensional space with occasional alien bits of plinking, plonking, twisting, pitch shifting and high end organs cutting into and emerging from it's roots. The track "Morning Dew" is interesting. The title seems to reference the abstracted sounds of how an ant might hear droplets running down and dripping from blades of grass... in outter space. Actually, there's a lot of that cosmic echo, reverb, panning and delay on this and everything sounds like it's in outter space. Unfortunately, sometimes it sort of feels like the effects are playing themselves without much human intent. That could be a positive thing, but here it feels a bit dull. The last two tracks offered by Hourglass Drops have a bit more dynamic variation but are still very sleepy, distant and hazy.
Norss is offering one track titled "De Hemel Valt" which seems to have the mentality of Sunn0))) or Black Boned Angel combined with "pretty" underlying textures and sounds. I would be very interested in listening to this track on some extremely high end system, because honestly any speakers I try it on cannot handle the bass and it really does sound like it could be a pretty good dark drone piece. Unfortunately, there is entirely too much low end and it just sounds like a long drawn out fart with some nice sounding pianos nestled in there. This release is limited to 30 copies and is self released by the artists. I would like to hear what both Hourglass Drops and Norss are doing in a live setting with a good PA system or simply a better recording. 7/10 -- Ryan Emmett (15 October, 2008)