Agitated Atmosphere: Bad Drumlin Grass – Live at Timber Cove

As major labels continue to exist behind the times, artists and labels with little capital and lesser reputations are producing some of the most innovative, interesting, and inspiring music. Whether it’s creating a new niche in digital technology or looking to once obsolete formats, Agitated Atmosphere hopes to shed a bit of light and share a bit of information on the up and coming sounds of artists such as Bad Drumlin Grass.

It’s been two years since Milvia Son has released a peep from Bad Drumlin Grass — it’s been a long, cold, hard two years. The band’s last album, The Invigorating Scent Of… captured a lazy throw down akin to the sloppy seconds of Levon Helm and Richard Manuel. The tracks within were riffs on the jam band scene, combining blue collar rock with the spirit of ’69. Hidden amidst such ridiculous flower power analogies, however, was the fact that in place of meandering solos and acid-laced tribal dances was a hearty pulse of lo-fi funk and workman reliability.

Catching up to the boys in 2009 finds them in a different head space. Their first album, Birth/Afterbirth, was a casual exploration of drone, so the curveball of The Invigorating Scent Of… was a welcomed change of pace; as you can imagine, so goes Live at Timber Cove. The latest blip on the Bad Drumlin Grass scene finds the mysterious group delving into darker tones. “The Expanding Universe” envelopes Side A with spacey, near operatic timbres. Gone is the jam, replaced by a man in an ominous cape and an organ played at the low scale. The track borders on minimal, with only the demure notes as clues to an actual tune. Side B’s “DMT Elf Blues” is even creepier, blending some of the band’s earliest drone tendencies into a slow-burning mind melt. Occasional yelps and distant guitar pickings break up the dry white noise that serves as the track’s backbone before transitioning into a backporch banjo romp complete with wildlife. If Live at Timber Cove serves as anything, it’s a reminder that no matter how few (when compared to the many prolific artists who share every recordings as an unfiltered idea) Bad Drumlin Grass’ releases, the journey from one to the next is diverse; the true definition of a trip.

Justin Spicer is a freelance journalist who also runs the webzine, Electronic Voice Phenomenon. He writes the Monday News Mash-Up for the KEXP Blog. You may follow him on Twitter.

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