By Sam Bradley
Ian Turnbull’s new solo drone album is the strangest and most interesting record you’ll hear this week.
It’s a strange one, I’ll give you that. Ian Turnbull, of Broken Records, has released a gorgeous instrumental album that feels so intimate, so familiar, that it feels like reading through diary entries in someone elses’ journal.
Digital Analogue is a home recording project composed primarily of dense atmospheric drones, repetitive piano lines and found sounds which take their cues from the likes of Gavin Bryars, Brian Eno, Gonzales and Nils Frahm. That feeling of familiarity is no coincidence; according to Turnbull, the record is a very personal one:
“[The record] came about as a response to the extreme highs and lows of a two year period in my life between 2011 and 2012. The excitement of first-time fatherhood and family life, touring, working on the third Broken Records album were tempered by personal heartbreaks, and all overshadowed by the terminal illness and death of my mother.”
Given the way that Be Embraced, You Millions! is anchored in place and time for Turnbull, the way I chose to listen to it turned out to be quite apt; by myself, through earphones as I jogged around Calton Hill in overcast, moody weather. A few of the tracks, like Cafe Royal and London Road even reference Edinburgh itself.
Drone can be an unwieldy label to slap onto a record; all too often it serves as a byword for vague electronic posing. But Be Embraced, You Millions! is a sensitive, thoughtful and evocative piece of music, one that manages to express a lot of feeling without a lot of production. Like those dual track names, each song seems to have two sides — one tremendously personal, yet another quietly universal.