Tecumseh Avalanche and Inundation

[Important; 2008]

Rating: 3/5

Styles:  drone
Others: Sunn O)))

Without question, certain musical genres, more than others, self-impose severely stringent limitations in the forms of both objective and body of defining characteristics. Consequently, we look to artists, perhaps a bit too expectantly, to apply that faculty we call the creative process in order to recurrently educe something innovative from these more trammeling frameworks: a fresh sound, yet a decided preservation of that distinctness, allowing us to still deem the song or album a valid specimen of whatever genre that artist happens to work within. Regrettably, this has proven a traditionally elusive accomplishment for most. But on those rare occasions when an artist does succeed, one could make the case that it’s just as thrilling as when one transcends — gracefully — a multitude of dissimilar genres.

Drone, now certainly more of its own genre than an adjunctive property, seems to bear this oppressiveness, at least in definition, carrying the potential to quickly cap the gross output of one’s originality and force a search for inspiration in new directions. But Tecumseh, like Sunn O))), specialize only in drone, as is evident after subjecting oneself to the boundlessness of Avalanche and Inundation. And like Sunn O))), Tecumseh avoids the one-dimensionality that drone so readily proffers. Fundamentally, Avalanche and Inundation demonstrates an impressive maturity, marked by the band’s understanding that, via their particular genre, assertion is easy: drone music is conducive to loudness. But setting forth meaningful expression — attaining, ultimately, something noteworthy amidst all of the noise — requires a different approach.

For Tecumseh, that approach relies on the distinguishing of each of Avalanche and Inundation’s three tracks from the other while still upholding, and always emphasizing, the distinctive earmarks of drone music. “Skies of Joy and Sorrow” rides across a dull, swarming hum, punctured lightly by shrill pinpricks of feedback. After more than 12 minutes of the overcast sluggishness of “Skies of Joy and Sorrow,” the next piece, “Traveling Alongside Death,” is a significant turnabout, chiseling out its surface with razor-sharp chords and hastening its progression by allowing those chords to melt liquidly from one to the other. Finally, “Cascadia” draws the record to an eventual halt, a muffled rumble, 17-plus-minutes long, deepened by swirling cymbals. Essentially, each piece beautifully accentuates the idiosyncrasies of the other two.

Those artists who have perfected their crafts within less stifling and more forgiving genres surely deserve every hagiographic word written of them, as do those who skillfully sidestep the boundaries of genre altogether. But equally deserving are those who wield their ability within narrow confines and give shape to something worth coming back to again and again. With Avalanche and Inundation, it is in this latter category that Tecumseh falls, and the prowess thus far exhibited makes for a persuasive argument as to the endless possibilities that drone, with some forward thinking, provides.

1. Skies of Joy and Sorrow
2. Traveling Alongside Death
3. Cascadia

Most Read