The formerly Washington, D.C.-based/currently Brooklyn-based “anti-hypocrisy” punk band, Drunken Sufis has been writing and performing angular songs since 2009. Yesterday the band released its latest album, titled DroneWars (Bad Friend Records).
Imagine a futuristic Baghdad, where contractors handle everything. There is no government. No rule of law. No belief system. Only a laissez-faire doctrine that holds everything together freely. Impossible to imagine? No, because that is exactly how things are being run. Do we have anything to fear from this experiment? Perhaps we do. Because, if the plan works in a place like Babylon (the ancient land founded by Nimrod, the great grandson of Noah,) then the experiment can be easily distributed everywhere. Including back home. For us. Maybe it already has.
This appears to be the abstract inspiration behind the Drunken Sufis’ DroneWars album. In the baleful future they portray, businessmen steer drones to crush an enemy. Then the occupation is carried out by highly trained government contractors. This is the vividly disturbing dreamscape created by the band, using crude sounds, guttural vocals and minimal instrumentation. But the intensity and the passion is always dangerously close.
For example, the guitars in the first track “The Shot” are squeezed so tight against a high-pitched whistle that they can barely breath. Through this prison-fence grill of grizzled sounds, common sense and meaning is almost never allowed to penetrate and expand into your mind. But even if it does, the sounds will wheedle their way into your subconscious state, determined to eat at your brain. In this way “Out Alive” is allowed to crawl free, and to make its hell-bound way into a bitter crevice. Where it waits.
The foundry bell-casting bong of the interminably screwed “Plutoocracy” rises like a rat to the bait. Digging, scratching and scavenging its way deep into your cortex. The drums stagger and fall like boxes of bricks, as the cramped guitar anthems almost giggle at the fun.
Then “The Market State” introduces us to the concept that the “Spiritual revolution is dead… Welcome to the new Baghdad …” And that takes us neatly into the “Middle Eastern Sovereign Wealth Funds” with those lines of uncertain downwardly spiralling guitar notes and jarring chords. This track is laced with Eastern influences; A king-cobra of an organ rises and hypnotically weaves like a pungi in the desert wind. The clamor of drums–and the rapid pace of events–begin to take us down the meandering twists of a spicy souk. And eventually into the mystifying ordeal of an inclement Arabized future.
So “Sharia Law” is unleashed to temper the excesses. The guttural voices on this track almost choke against the chortle of guitars, and the irregular cattle-grid of metallic sounds. Hoof against dust. The heat of the desert will leave you blind and disoriented.
Next is “Digital Society,” a track in which faceless controllers maneuver our destinies. We realize instinctively that we are all doomed before we even start. On this track the jangles of guitar catch up with us, trapping us in their barbed-wire webs of sound. And the curdled voice pleads with us–meaninglessly–in faint hope of desperate salvation. When the buzz bombs come, you will greet them with open arms.
“The Bloodlet” is a yawning, groaning song, with rubberized guitars and faltering rhythms. It is like a monster digger, tracking through a small town to pick on the smallest of dwellings and crush them to pieces with mighty blows. More calamity comes in “The Stoning”; there’s disconcerting confusion that is almost too much to endure. Cries and screams are fast–as fast as the murderous hail of pebbles in the Rajm.
You can criticize the way of the Hudud, but what is worse? “The Stoning” or “The Droning”? In this last song on the album, the “rule of law” is sent out across a heavenly sky. Law sent a coded message, bleeping into space, plotting a course for the robotic killing arm of our nation-state. Now we do the business of killing from a discreet and safe distance. This last track is less punk-rock, and more inclined to the great illusions and imaginative processes of progressive rock. But, given the harsh realities of the chosen subject, it is wholly in keeping.
One could come to this album expecting horror, misery and corruption. But instead, Drunken Sufis has filled it with black humor and spiked tonal surprises. It is not for the weak. And it is certainly not for the meek. But it’s an album full of startling sounds and creative ideas that will make you rethink what is right. And what is not.
Teaser for the DroneWars album:[youtube http://youtu.be/YwTTPyrlOQo]
Tracked, Mixed & Produced by Ras Yahya
Additional Engineering by Chris Abell & Keith Rigling
All Songs Written By Drunken Sufis