Megan Norton – Alcoholic Soul (MP3)

Megan Norton is a electronic noisician from Germany. She has no physical releases as of yet, but she has two releases out on her Bandcamp that are available for download – and you can name the price. Alcoholic Soul is her first full-length release, and it’s a droning affair composed of various satellite sounds from the 1950s. What results is a short, three-movement set of ambient sounds that rumble and swell.

“Movement I: Hallucinogenic Thougts” opens the album, with a soaring, ebb and flow sound of metallic noises. It has a very dream-like feel to it, and though the track’s multiple layers all sound quite similar in pitch and tone, the subtle differences compliment each other very well. A tinny, sizzling layer continues to pulse in and out of the track along with a more stable drone, until about halfway through the track where a shimmering wail becomes the focus. It’s all very ambient and controlled, and the drone never enters a more chaotic bent, making the first movement a very relaxed, enveloping experience, while still retaining a sense of floating toward a destination.

There’s a strange transition to “Movement II: Smiles Without Reason” that caught me off-guard; it is, most likely, because of the tonal shift in drone sounds at the end of “Movement I” and the suddenness of “Movement II.” It seems as though all three tracks are meant to be interconnected as a cohesive whole to Alcoholic Soul, and so I noticed that these two tracks could have been linked a bit better. But “Movement II” is able to maintain the same deftness as the first track, continuing a similar ebb-and-flow drone until a pulsing, sonar-like ping echoes underneath the scissoring electronic. It quickly cuts out for more of the same drone, and it’s this reticence to change sounds that bothers me about this piece. Although I understand the aesthetic of minimal movement within the course of Alcoholic Soul, “Smiles Without Reason” is a little too similar to “Hallucinogenic Thougts” for my taste, and I found myself hoping Norton would find a way to implement some new type of satellite sound into the mix. She does come back to the echoing sonar ping, and it’s good consistency, but for all intents and purposes “Movement II” stagnates.

Another somewhat awkward shift into “Movement III: Alcoholic Soul,” which finds more of the same sort of soaring metallic sounds, just with slightly different tones. The rigidity in sticking with the drone theme here tends to ensure a very standard sound throughout the three tracks; while there’s something to be said for the limited variability on display, this reviewer still yearns for some uniquer sounds. I like the give and take of the rhythmic pulse, and also the feeling of weightlessness as though the sounds are levitating in some anti-gravity chamber; but I also crave some new sound to enter the void.

Alcoholic Soul is an interesting first release from artist Megan Norton, but in its rigid invariability it fails to deliver a memorable ambient experience. Instead, it feels like more of the same after the strong first movement, and Norton is hard-pressed to outdo the first cut on the album. But Alcoholic Soul indicates that with experience, Norton will adopt a matured drone sound.

Download from Bandcamp

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