Ten Years Ago The Drift Gave Us an Incredible Instrumental Journey
Spring forward! As we take yet another year to adjust our clocks an hour ahead, it always comes at the expense of a Monday. Why not a Friday or Saturday? Maybe it’s the lag of my biological clock making a momentary adjustment or winter trying to hold on to its last grasp, but all of this is playing into the musical interpretation of The Drift’s Blue Hour, and it feels more poignant today.
Danny Paul Grody’s band released their final release as The Drift on Temporary Residence ten years ago. A prominent guitarist in the San Francisco scene, his coming together with these bandmates fuel great creative collaborations that emit a mixture of mood and textures that fall under that post-rock nomenclature. Nonetheless, it received attention from both critics and fans of the genre alike.
There is a good reason I can feel the album’s pensiveness. Recorded in the wake of long-time collaborator and horn player Jeff Jacobs, it gave way for these instrumentals to be a release of emotion and creativity, all songs culminating a mysterious radiance to the memory of a friend. It transfers into the listener’s own experience. How does that mystery play into your own awareness and experience? That is the question I ponder for myself upon the album’s first notes.
“Dark Passage” begins; the journey of drums clanking a haphazard cadence creates something unnerving. Then a bass line builds a foundation. It’s impossible for the drums to fall out of place now. A guitar chugs notes. Dissonance is barely audible like a storm over the horizon coming nearer. Dissonance and noise. What I like about The Drift is that noise is used as an accentuation and not dominance. They never drown out the purpose of the song; the band plays into the tenseness of the moment. As anxiety builds, the storm blows through. The heart rate increases. Before devastation the song moves on and paints sound hues slowly dissipate.
The song that got me was “Horizon.” That bass line ranks up there with one of the greatest syncopated bass riffs. It chugs into a mantra. One-two-three, one-two-three, one-two, one-two—rinse and repeat. It’s so fucking good and lies somewhere between Helmet and Shellac. Guitars are only an afterthought under a krautrock canopy. The song meanders through progressive territory but it’s a momentary lapse and spins back into this uncanny riffage.
I appreciate the 1990s Southern Records sluggish rock rebellion and its artfulness as much as I appreciate the broodishness of “The Skull Hand Smiles / May You Fare Well.” But the soft psychedelic swirl of “Fountain” is The Drift at its most creative. It shows that they can be adventurous as easily as they can be contemplative. As the song drifts off, we realize how powerful Blue Hour really is.
The Drift-Dark Passage
1. Dark Passage
4. The Skull Hand Smiles / May You Fare Well
5. Bardo II
7. Luminous Friend
8. Hello From Everywhere