This is Los Angeles calling and "The Name of the Band is L.A. Drones." Sitting on the cutting edge of electronic music, and pointing to its future direction, the L.A. Drones have managed to release one of those rare debut LPs so dialed into the pulse of the underground music scene, its uncanny. Chalk some of it up to timing, but give most of the credit to a coalescence of artist sophistication and street savvy not usually found in the beginner's trenches. Most artists, and very good ones at that, are just trying to get past the point of showing promise at this stage in their career. Which begs the question: Why, in a city filled with music industry A&R people who are supposed to be able to spot talent, have they not latched onto the L.A. Drones?
Working under the pseudonyms and personas of Kontrol Remoto and Darlington Brackets, the duo present themselves in black masks that reference a subversive notion somewhere between urban militant and rural serial killer. Ironically, by the time you add their incendiary audio assault and the frenzied after hours dance party that comes with it, the attempt at creating some distance between themselves and their audience by virtue of the bizarre, actually acts as a magnetic and charismatic force.
Assembled on and around the rhythm programming and sequencer wizardry of Remoto, their music is an amalgamation of styles including industrial, techno, and minimal, that fuses into a L.A. street brand of synth pop. Remoto's keen sense of analogue waveforms and their properties during oscillation reveals itself time and time again, as he delivers unearthly eargasms of voltage euphoria with finesse and distinction. Always aware of nuance, and creatively filling the gaps with vocal samples, loops, and additional synthesizers, his efforts ride the fine line of ingenious premeditated composition and innovational live revelation.
The other half of the duo brings a vocal delivery that resides somewhere between the sensual and coquettish inflections of Deborah Harry, and the artsy theatrical expressions of Nina Hagen. Self aware, bold, and without inhibition, Darlington Brackets more than fulfills the duties of lead vocalist. She is a pop wise powerhouse that instinctually understands the art of captivating an audience in order to clear a pathway for her message. Dark and impassioned, her strengths lie in the use of vampish qualities to lure her listener into a place of intimate exchange, while giving a sense of trusted yet seductive confidentiality.
Acting as a protracted intro to the seven song LP, "Horrible Dreams" slowly builds with the layering of several synthesizers and vocal loops that create a hypnotic vehicle for Brackets' lyrics. With what amounts to sonic teasing, she begins with a spoken word experimental version of the lyrics through a bullhorn, but then unleashes a rich full bodied chorus version of those same lyrics that harmonically interplay with Remoto's melodic backdrop. It is here, that we are first introduced to the unique chemistry between these two musicians, and hear the multi-dimensional craftiness of their sound.
Next up, is the LP's searing and anthemic dance monster "Give Up." Not only does its explosive beat compel the listener to move, but the hip underground sensibility it projects imprints itself on one's psyche. Beyond catchy and mesmerizing, it is absolutely bewitching as the two push themselves to redefine the raison d'ętre of the pop hook. Filled with some of the best synthesizer sounds ever, and Brackets' transcendent vocal performance, the pull this song has on the listener is epic if not supernatural. Any DJ worth their salt should find themselves spinning this track until the wee hours of the morning.
In "Rachel's Hyperbolic Decay," a Euro electro pulse is counter balanced by the warm human element of Brackets' vocal homage to those 80's female singers that proceeded her. Aptly titled, Brackets portrays a flirtatious lost soul who begins as a sure footed enchantress that declines to the level of a pouty adolescent. A great concept vehicle, it harkens back to some of the darker New Wave disco songs of that era, and should be a dance floor favorite as well.
There are no weak ones here. Each of the LP's remaining tracks are hit singles in their own rights. All unique and non formulaic. And while the two musicians have their main roles, they are not without the moxie to expand their boundaries. "Horizonte De Sucesos" finds Kontrol Remoto assuming the lead singer duties as he channels a Spanish language incarnation of Blaine Reininger, and adds some very soulful and well placed saxophone leads, while Brackets' contributes the thick and ominous bass synth lines.
Whether or not the L.A. Drones get their just due from the music establishment remains to be seen. One thing for sure, they are next level electronic musicians who are solid in their assessment, approach, and execution. Already having established themselves as one of the more interesting and relevant acts in Los Angeles, their new LP should bring them wider recognition and fanfare. Highly recommended.
Artist Link: https://ladrones2.bandcamp.com