Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
A bunch of drones created by a member of an experimental band whose German name translates as “Collapsing New Buildings” and whose early albums were characterised as “unremittingly harsh, with vocals shouted and screamed above a din of banging and scraping metal percussion” might not sound like a fun listen, but actually this library is surprisingly entertaining. Issued as part of Orchestral Tools’ collaborative Artist Series, Drones By Alexander Hacke is a huge 362GB collection of complex, playable, largely chromatic long drones created by Mr Hacke in association with Sascha Knorr and Timo Loosli.
There’s a lot more to this library than filter‑modulated bass synth drones: sound sources include vintage electric and acoustic guitars, four‑ and six‑string basses, two hurdy‑gurdys, an Indian tambura, didgeridoo, and a grand piano played with an Ebow. Weighing in on the orchestral front, OT also sampled two cellos, two double basses, eight trombones and a four‑piece bass choir. Inevitably, there’s also a Minimoog analogue synth, an unbeatable instrument for pure, powerful sub‑bass tones. The whole shooting match was recorded at Teldex Scoring Stage and Silent Green, Berlin.
Though all sources are presented in their unadulterated state, the library’s main focus is a large set of processed sound‑design presets which weave disparate elements into playable hybrid textures. Some excellent examples are the ‘Trawler’ and ‘Cornfeld’ presets, which use classic orchestral low string octaves as a basis for their evolving soft low drones. In a more aggressive vein, ‘Ceiling Plaster’ introduces a threatening distorted edge, ‘Gurdyan Knot’ sounds like a monstrous end‑of‑days cathedral organ and the twangling tamburas of ‘Metal Waves’ add exotic Eastern traces.
Alexander Hacke’s drones collection continues to fly the experimental flag while proving that this kind of stuff doesn’t have to be unlistenable!
Sub drones featuring bass guitar, Minimoog and the bass choir focus on Earth‑shattering low‑end textures with long, evolving waves. Many patches allow you to use the mod wheel to create tonal builds, with the ‘Magma’ preset unveiling an intriguing layer of electronic disturbance when you do so. Moving out of the bass register, quieter presets such as the delicate, slow‑moving ‘Pure’ and the lovely ‘Sound of Her Wings’ are great contemplative pad sounds.
Other highlights include Mr Hacke’s guitar feedback samples, which sound like they’re about to erupt into a crazed rock solo at any minute; the Ebowed piano’s pure, mournful and serene‑sounding long notes; and the bass singers’ ‘mad monks’ random swells. The samples were mainly recorded from close, distant and surround mic positions, and I was pleased to see you can extend the playing ranges of the presets in both directions.
A committed sonic explorer since the age of 14, Alexander Hacke’s drones collection continues to fly the experimental flag while proving that this kind of stuff doesn’t have to be unlistenable! Portentous, dramatic, occasionally cataclysmic, organic‑sounding and infused with flashes of beauty, this well‑designed collection is an ideal tool for modern soundtrack production.