Like the best Ameritronic music (that’s an unnecessary but useful amalgam of Americana and electronic), Western Mourning by Darcy Jean and Jeff Morton has all the stuff of songs, minus the songs themselves. There are loose semblances of tonal structures, and fairly recognizable instrumentation, notably the lightly struck guitars, and there are production effects that lend depth and resonance, and even if there aren’t songs there are compositional approaches, an inherent sense of development, even if it’s more a matter of sonic inquisitiveness than of melodic evolution. In “Lead a Horse to Drinking,” the shimmer of a gently touched guitar string, what might be a grace note’s grace note, expands into several seconds of winsome feedback (MP3). In “Don’t Take Your Gun and Go Into Town,” the echo finds a comfort zone between the concrete-and-iron aesthetic of industrial music and the rural affect of country music (MP3). And “Cold as the Clay” makes much of bent notes and erratic percussion (MP3). The titles themselves hint at the duo’s purposefully pedestrian intent. “Don’t Take Your Gun and Go Into Town” seems to remove the poetry from the similar Johnny Cash refrain, while “Cold as the Clay” adds a beat and thus diminishes the readily available alliteration. “Lead a Horse to Drinking” seems just shy of the jokey wordplay that emanates from so many Nashville publishing houses.
Morton is credited with casio keyboard, Jean with guitar and delay pedal. The duo recorded the album in Regina, Saskatchewan, in October 2011, and the set of three tracks was released for free download on the excellent Panospria netlabel. It’s available at notype.com/drones.