“There is a German satellite falling to earth!” a woman’s voice urgently announces. “She says, what if it hits me? Welcome to anxiety group.” A dense cloud on the horizon heralds a fresh onslaught from that infamous swarm of free jazz killer bees, a new project from self-described “conceptual kleptomaniac post digital free jazz outfit” DRONE OPERATØR. Riding hard along the line between experimental electronics, blockbuster sound design and the loosest jazz improvisation, this rogue’s gallery of players, headed up by art world provocateurs Paul Barsch and Tilman Horning, take the fevered pulse of the relentlessly flattened now and note down four key observations which presented together make up WELCØME TO ANXIETY GROUP.
Coaxing lively theatricality from a continually provoked altercation between acoustic instrumentation and synthetic sound, each of the project’s four tracks provides a new perspective on what it means to improvise through technological mediation. “Here we are now,” write DRONE OPERATØR. “22 after 2k. mp4 flex to 32bit float. The sax – the heart. The quadcopter – the brain. Duo d’Allemagne not wasting a life time learning jazz standards.”
To open proceedings, our faithful operatør whips up exquisite dissonance with ‘Bot Møther’, smashing together squalls of saxophone and ripples of percussion with the sounds of sci-fi artillery, like an amphetamine-fuelled, midnight jam hammered out oblivious to an ongoing alien invasion. Slowing to a furtive creep for ‘German Satellite’, picking out keenly felt anxiety in suggestive plucks, stuttering clacks and strained wails, their cosmic warning signalling a neurotic climax before settling back into a post-coital skitter, flourishes of keys, both digital and analogue, harmonising with DRONE OPERATØR’s weary welcome to the group. Eschewing the electronic completely for the cacophonous gallop of ‘Røhrstøck’, we’re invited to hold on for dear life during a mad scramble towards the ‘The Vessel,’ a staggering sequence of tumbling synthetic chimes, embellished with peals of ornate sax that flare up and out to illuminate the track’s irregularity, alternately submerged and retrieved through a subtle manipulation of filters. It’s a session that has to be heard to be believed, crammed with as much difficulty and as much revelation as any good therapy should. As DRONE OPERATØR describe: “From iconic spamming to intellectual nonsense. Always never predictable, never not cheesy. Battery life cycles full of joy. You say you like free jazz. We don’t believe you.”
Welcøme to Anxiety Group will be released on September 5th, 2022 by Participant, on limited edition clear red vinyl, and digital download via the Participant Bandcamp. The release will be accompanied by a series of films by Drone Operatør, featuring editing, FX, and CGI by digital artist Darío Alva.
Text by: Henry Bruce Jones
Participant is a record label and creative studio run by filmmaker William Markarian-Martin
and conceptual artist Richie Culver
Artist: DRONE OPERATØR
Release: WELCØME TO ANXIETY GROUP
Format: Limited edition red vinyl and digital
Date: 5th September
A1 BOT MØTHER
A2 GERMAN SATELLITE
B2 THE VESSEL