In Edition #14 of the Chill Out Tent we spoke to author Harry Sword about his book ‘Monolithic Undertow’, an epic account of the story of drone music. Inspired by that conversation we’ve curated a Spotify playlist – ‘A Beginners Guide to Drone’. It’s quite a journey, dive in…
Monolithic Undertow – Interview with author Harry Sword
We’ll be talking to author Harry Sword this Sunday, the 30th May 2021 as part of our Edition #14 of the Chill Out Tent. Harry Sword is a Cambridge based writer. He is a contributor to The Quietus, Vice, Record Collector, Munchies and the Guardian. We’re discussing his recent book ‘Monolithic Undertow – In Search of Sonic Oblivion‘ described by Beck as
‘An inspired and intuitive navigation of the drone continuum . . . with a compass firmly set to new and enlightening psychedelic truths’
His publishers summarize this superb book thus ‘Monolithic Undertow alights a crooked path across musical, religious and subcultural frontiers. It traces the line from ancient traditions to the modern underground, navigating archaeoacoustics, ringing feedback, chest plate sub-bass, avant-garde eccentricity, sound weaponry and fervent spiritualism. From Neolithic beginnings to bawdy medieval troubadours, Sufi mystics to Indian raga masters, cone shattering dubwise bass, Hawkwind’s Ladbroke Grove to the outer reaches of Faust and Ash Ra Temple; the hash-fueled fug of The Theatre of Eternal Music to the cough syrup reverse hardcore of Melvins, seedy VHS hinterland of Electric Wizard, ritual amp worship of Earth and Sunn O))) and the many touch points in between, Monolithic Undertow explores the power of the drone – an audio carrier vessel capable of evoking womb like warmth or cavernous dread alike.‘
Some or even many of these artists may be unfamiliar to our audience, but his sonic explorations also touch on Brian Eno, the Orb, ambient and chill out too and the transcendental ambition of so much of this material shares much with the world of electronic music that may be more familiar. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear Harry discuss the origins of the book, some of the amazing moments he experienced in it’s research and also his recommendations for those new to the world of drone.
Harry gives us a primer, ‘a Beginner’s Guide to Drone’ that we mixed into a 30 minute taster for the uninitiated, that we’ll play after the interview. Considering that many drone pieces will play out at 20 or more minutes per track, often considerably longer, our mini mix can only be a ‘teaser’ for the full immersive drone experience, but we hope it opens some ears to this new sonic landscape.
Here’s an extract of the book from the lovely people at the Heavenly Social to whet your appetite…
Buy Monolithic Undertow direct from the publishers White Rabbit books here.
Join us on Mixcloud Live at 18:45 BST