“Steeped in detuned guitars and iridescent noise, Drowse […] sounds like an intimate Mount Eerie home recording overdubbed with a worn-out cassette of The Cure’s Disintegration.” -NPR
Drowse, the nom de plume of Portland-based musician Kyle Bates, has resurfaced with a new chapter in the project’s emotionally brutalizing, musically fearless narrative. Following up his wildly acclaimed sophomore LP Cold Air, Bates has announced the forthcoming release of Light Mirror. The album is due out on June 7 via The Flenser.
Light Mirror revolves a question that’s simply stated, but emotionally complex: “Who are we when we’re alone?” In April of 2018, Drowse’s Kyle Bates left his home in Portland, OR, to pursue an artist residency in barren northern Iceland. Mostly in self-imposed isolation, Bates pondered the nature of solitude, and what it means to be “closed” or “open” to the world. Upon returning home, Bates worked obsessively and alone, save for collaborating with Maya Stoner, his longtime creative partner. The dichotomy of his Icelandic musings materialized in a very real way as he neglected his personal relationships in favor of his art. While he was confronting his life-long fear of intimacy, and reconciling himself to a diagnosis of Bipolar 1, Bates found that the means he employed to conquer these obstacles—self reflection through art—carried with them an equal measure of misery.
Light Mirror falls within a lineage of overcast Pacific Northwest albums, but finds Drowse pushing past its slowcore roots. The album’s prismatic sound reflects experimental electronic, noise pop, black metal, krautrock, and Kyle’s talent for world-building. The lyrics are ruminations on the idea of multiple selves, identity, paranoia, fear of the body, alcohol abuse, social media, the power of memory, the truths that are revealed when we are alone, and the significance of human contact, heavily influenced by filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky and poet Louise Glück. Mastered by Nicholas Wilbur (Mount Eerie, Planning for Burial) at the Unknown, the album showcases a striking maturation in sound. Light Mirror is Drowse’s most intimate and desolate work to date.