My “flying through space” screensaver pops on as I sit in front of the computer while listening to Ester Drang and I think “How fitting.” I can imagine myself reclined in a chair and listening to this album as I float among the stars and planets while at the controls of a grand rocketship. I guess visiting your local planetarium with a set of headphones could accomplish the same effect (at a much lower cost).
Ester Drang’s That Is When He Turns Us Golden is a noisy space album filled with feedback, experimental reverb, eerie electronics, and soft vocals that should please any My Bloody Valentine fan. Similar to Loveless, Ester Drang uses plenty of controlled feedback as the transient sounds blend each song together creating one long track. Thus, there’s no break in the mood. Unfortunately, the album is only 23 minutes in length, which means you’ll probably need to listen to it twice in a row.
Songs such as “Lafayette,” “Recently Forever,” and “Always” add surfy notes from the Jason Martin school of music played over white noise and droning vocals. The constantly melancholy sounds are suitable for a 3am drive on some deserted highway under a clear night. Other tracks such as “One-Hundred Seventeen Days Adrift” and “When the Curtain’s Down” hamper the album a little since they average only 18 seconds each. It’s hardly worth calling them tracks, but it sounds good when you look at the sleeve of the CD and the cheap price. This is the only complaint on an album that I could easily listen to over and over. As if the rest of the album didn’t already do so, “Fiddling While Rome Burns” and “The Caspian Sea” both ease you into a thoughtless trance of relaxation and bring a hypnotizing affect to your mind.
Ester Drang has created a rough-around-the-edges space/surf/noise album that you may find surprisingly easy to listen to, and better if listened to alone. I could only imagine listening to it over the warm crackle of vinyl as I lay my head to rest for the night. It will definitely be interesting to see how Ester Drang evolves with their next album.
Written by Nolan Shigley.