Brown is, at least currently, the solo drone ambient alias of Portland’s own Jeremy C. Long. Though the project started out as a duo comprising of the additional member Ian Watson, it now resides solely with Long and is presumptuously the result of the artist’s need to delve further into the world of minimalism than it seems he was able to do with the project that he is infinitely more known for; Tecumseh. Tecumseh is a drone doom trio that most fans of Bob Bellerue’s Anarchymoon Recordings should already be aware of as their debut LP was released, to much acclaim, by the label back in 2007 in a collaboration with the Black Horizons label. This three-track opus paved the way for Long’s future collaborations in Tecumseh with more well-known labels devoted to experimental music including Important Records and the infamous Beta Lactam Ring Records. Despite this success, Brown has endured somewhat of a humble if not meager career, having only released three CD-R’s prior to this LP in “Bathing a Leper,” “The Dying of the Light,” and “Brown Rainbow”, all of which were released on his own label Infinite Whim Recordings. There was also a little-known tape released on Karamosov Records entitled “Sacred Sound”. Since the release of this LP in January 2011, Long’s output has effectively ceased in Brown — but, given the output of his projects overall, he has never seemed to have any wish towards attempting a prolific career.
Long describes his particular breed of drone as a creation dedicated to “lush soundscapes and microtonal drones” — the latter of which is certainly true of this album. The former, however, seems to leave the listener unfulfilled, though only by way of the quality that makes the compositions on “Lepidoptera” unique. It is the fact that his drones aren’t overly lavish or full that gives his creations character. They are quite desolate, sometimes existing in groups of swelling but not quite weaving harmonies, and other times oscillating in singular solitude with only the warm gentle warble of the vinyl LP itself to give texture to the meditative tone that expands out from the stylus. A sound fitting for the gentle arrival into consciousness that the title of Side A implies. Side B, however, has something a bit more abrasive to offer with “Cocoon”. The sound here is droning on the side of noise, featuring a feedback buzz that is reminiscent of the deep primitive sound of a shofar horn. This sound gives the track a temple-like atmosphere, an atmosphere that seems to ritualize the concept of morphing into something new. The final track cuts open this buzz-saw effect, revealing subtle shades of color and beauty within the hardened layer of noise. It is a powerful emergence, the sound of becoming part of a kingdom.
Those whom write this LP off as yet another drone record perhaps fail to understand the tie between the music within and the title of the album, though a massive hint to those unfamiliar with the term is present in obvious tribute on the front cover. There are a great many drone artists out there whom fail to comprehend that music this minimal demands substance in order to be relevant. It isn’t meant to simply be background static, it must represent something in order to be fruitful, and Long’s work with “Lepidoptera” accurately provides a glimpse into the kingdom of moths and butterflies. It is the fluttering drones of side A that give rise to these images, and it is the abrupt rawness of Side B that develops the shelled sanctuary of a cocoon. Though I feel it falls short of being perfectly crafted by failing to address a necessary evolution to complete the cycle on side B, it remains as an excellent example of critically thought-out drone by a mind capable of turning the beauty of the natural world into sound that is both cerebral and at least partly emotional.
A1) Last Instar