Eclipsing Shelters






Tsone (or tsone in the artist's preferred lower case form) is the Drone project of multimedia artist and art installer Tony Obr from Tempe, Arizona. Drawing from the more emotional powers of the genre, his works are based on and structured around dualities, although the nucleus that encapsulates the twofold nature is never transparently uncovered in a clear-cut style. Juxtaposing different forces, timbres, moods and temperatures in his arrangements, Tsone's music is as erudite and eclectic as it is carefully layered and accessible. I believe that all of his self-released works offer a good starting point, but from an aesthetic viewpoint, I am particularly fond of Eclipsing Shelters, released in August 2012 and available at Bandcamp as a name-your-price download. The prospect of Eclipsing Shelters is somewhat given away by its title, but then again, the two-sided style prevents this and most of Tsone's works to be overly mellow or silky. Despite the shelter-related aspects, Tony Obr puts the comfort zones in adjacency to potentially darker, more enigmatic accentuations. The EP presents two long Drone tracks of the hazy kind. But you can imagine that due to the entangled thickets of the release, a hazy cloudscape is not the only center of attention. At times, there are sequences which sound astonishingly thin and reduced, but this is done on purpose. Eclipsing Shelters is at its peak when glistening sparkles shimmer through the misty veils or gyrate around the thin streams. Obr furthermore coats the nothingness that looms in the background. While there are many Drone tracks out there where the reoccurring silence seems threatening and depressive, the temporary loneliness does never sound crestfallen. Is Eclipsing Shelters really skillfully balanced and varied? I try to distill a detailed answer below.


Metachromatic opens in the well-known formulaic fade-in fashion, but otherwise reaches out into densely layered arcane helixes. The first phase is probably the most aggressive one due to its machine-like monotonous drone washes which are very intense and dusk-tinged. The swirling spirals underneath it are of an epicurean quality and form the counterpart to the tension: crystalline flecks and luminous slivers glint beyond the looming atmosphere and illuminate it from the back. The euphony of this particular stream is awe-inspiring, its opaqueness only makes it a more important part of the whole. As the windy nature fades away after three minutes, threnodic synth strings glow and yearn in the backdrop, slowly increase in loudness and bring hazy whitewashed pink noise waves with them. The graveness of this section may have increased, but so do solemnity and mystique. The leisurely meandering tones in minor inherit an ecclesial quality and reciprocate the majestic gales that whirr around it. When Metachromatic reaches its final conclusion, the misty strata seem to have gotten bolstered and enlarged before the doleful lament of the silver-colored synth melody fades into the pitch-black nothingness. At the end of its cycle, Metachromatic turns out to be a bewailing piece with an abyssal depth, though this assertion is only partially right. Its opening phase boasts with contentment and blitheness, but as usual, this counteracting section is easily forgotten since it only comprises of about three minutes. But it is an important part of the piece and refers back to the title in hindsight, hinting at the changing colors of biological materials. The constant fizzles and flutterings project the life-like organic trait onto the waveform. A haunting piece, undoubtedly heavy and contemplative.


The second part of the EP is reserved for the evocatively titled Remember To Hold Each Moment And Each Other Gently. Yet again, title and music are in unison: Tony Obr fathoms out the incandescence of purified mist swirls from their epicenter. Right from the get-go does a wraithlike majesty greet the listener, the emergent tone sequences and their incessant downfall cause languorous places of calm and tranquility. Even at the point of their intersection where one loop ends and the other one rises, there is never a moment of coldness due to the ensuing placidity; in fact, the serenity only grows and is transferred into the next loop. It is hard to explain, but this piece is supercharged with quiescence and coziness, its mood curiously hard to pinpoint. After approximately six minutes, slight changes are injected. The blur of the accompanying drone washes increases, their infinitesimal dissonance contains a slightly harsher but still comfortable counterbalance to the fragility of the arrangement. The luminance increases with the amount of layers, the granularity is augmented, the depth increases. Every bit of silence or nothingness is now successfully covered with drone washes and a fascinating interplay of stereo-panned, ever-shifting patterns. The surfaces of the drones suddenly become blurry only to toggle into a piercing mode for a short amount of time. What reads like a hectic hodgepodge sounds perfectly equilibrated. The final phase of this piece is then pieced together by oxymoronically vivacious pastel colors. The synth washes float over the listener, the wideness increases, a complete submergence is suddenly possible. And yet does Tsone keep the balance of all the piercing, quieter and more ethereal parts. The composition ends as it began, in a humbler, circumspect form, but with a strong focus on a blissful, truly uncorrupted form of happiness.


Tsone's Eclipsing Shelters forms a splendid symbiosis of its track titles and the music itself. Sure, this has been done by thousands of artists millions of times regardless of the current genre conventions or the latest achievements in the realms of electronic music in general, but it is here why I can relate to the titular aspects of shelter and transfer them to the two compositions. Eclipsing Shelters is not about the perfect wind-shielded fortress though: incessant wind gusts, breezes or bubbling fogs find their way into the sceneries, as do carefully set up counterparts of a darker nature. The complexity of their superstructures is best shown in the many tones in minor on Metachromatic which is traversed by yearning undertones and a forlorn peacefulness without ever becoming harsh or out of tune. Its point of origin, however, is actually painted in aural neon colors, at least in the given intrinsic arc of the EP. Remember To Hold Each Moment And Each Other Gently ends in a similar fashion, with a peacefulness that is much deeper than the depth of the positively whimsical drones themselves. Especially the later shifts and altered states make this an appealing piece which breaks with the boundaries Tony Obr establishes in the first six loop-based minutes. The duality of happiness and contemplation, company and loneliness is advected into every stratum, sequence and note of this release, making Eclipsing Shelters a wonderfully thought-provoking and balmy gem in the veins of Celer's thematic two-track next of kin Lightness And Irresponsibility of 2012. Tsone is one Drone artist to watch. A terrific EP!



Further listening and reading:

  • You can purchase (name your price) and listen to Eclipsing Shelters in full via Bandcamp.
  • Follow Tsone on Twitter: @tsonesound.




Ambient Review 210: Tsone – Eclipsing Shelters (2012). Originally published on May 1, 2013 at AmbientExotica.com.