Bridging Drone & Glitch (MP3)

Writing in brief about his six-plus-minute swath of sound recently uploaded to, musician Tom Vourtsis described it as “drone/glitch.”

That’s a bit like saying “inside/outside” or “yes/no.” For while drones can be glitchy, and a stream of glitches can suggest a drone-like sound-field, the terms are more a matter of contrasts than of commonalities.

Drones are long held sounds that have the feeling of nearly sub-aural experience. Glitches are the noises that disrupt. Drones are background, glitches foreground. Drones are comfortable, glitches abrasive. Drones are the sound of inaction, glitches of something that’s broken. Drone suggest stasis, glitch crisis.

Which isn’t to criticize Vourtsis. He is correct, and the track is enticing for exactly that reason: the sounds are contrasting, but not incompatible. The glitches are eventually subsumed in “Brown,” as the track is named, but it’s certainly not clear from the start which element will be the victor. The opening drone is like some distant port noise, the sound of ships passing in the fog-muddied night. And then the slow wax and wane of the fog-sound gives way to Morse-code blips; the track moves from business-as-usual to urgency. In time the urgency fades, and the disruptive audio relaxes back into a drone, but even as it comes to a close, it bears the hint of continued threat: the glitch on the horizon.

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