Kyle Bates (Drowse)

This time around we feature the vinyl collection of Portland based musician Kyle Bates, the man creating music as Drowse.

The first record I ever bought with my own money was…

Slint – Spiderland

This is definitely not the first record I bought but I can’t remember–Spiderland was early and formative. I got Slint tattoos at the age of eighteen in the midst of a serious manic break. My sloppily drawn tattoo diagrams are still in the record sleeve with bizarre manic Kyle notes:“4:00 PM tomorrow” “black ink” “no right way” etc… “Don, Aman” still gets me.

The record that made me want to make music was…

Oneohtrix Point Never – Replica

I’d played in bands before this, but when Replica came out in 2011 I was beginning to experiment with Ableton, teaching myself the basics of recording. Daniel Lopatin’s work pushed my experiments into obsession: “How do I make music that completely fills the ears in headphones like the start of “Andro?” Where are all the tiny fragments of sound coming from in “Sleep Dealer?” “How do I do that?”
The first Drowse EP, songs to sleep on, is mostly just me learning from, ripping off, and experimenting with many of these ideas. I still create and use instruments that sound like the human voice because of OPN. One of the best albums of all time.

The record I’ve played more than any other is…

Portishead-Third / Mount Eerie – Wind’s Poem / MBV – Loveless / Deerhunter – Microcastle / Sonic Youth – EVOL / Sparklehorse – Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain / Unwound – Leaves Turn Inside You / Neil Young – Harvest etc…

If you know me none of these will come as a surprise. There are far more albums that I could add to this list but all of these are records I’ve owned and have been turning to since high school.

With each of these albums there is a feeling of closeness between the artist and listener. These are the sort of albums you make an agreement with: they build a world that you can inhabit and in turn they slowly seep into you. I’ve spent hours with each of them laying on the floor of my bedroom between speakers.

Each album has a story, from watching Mount Eerie open for Mogwai on the Wind’s Poem tour and realizing I’d found my favorite band to blasting Third to calm my nerves while driving with my bandmates to Las Vegas; the music that sticks with us is music that weaves itself directly into our lived experience.

The record that always make me feel good is…

Shabazz Palaces – Black Up

Ishmael Butler was in Digable Planets who I don’t have on vinyl but do have on a CD I’ve listened to since childhood. Butler’s voice is instant positive nostalgia.
I associate Shabazz Palaces with certain good times I had living in Bellingham my first two years as an “adult”-walking around in the arboretum, taking drugs, etc… “it’s a feeling.” The production is so out there, lo-fi, and actually a little dark. This record hits hard but I always feel good with Butler in my ear.

The record I turn to when I’m feeling down is…

Grouper – Ruins

All Grouper records are welcomed blankets for depression, but Ruins is the breakup album. Ruins ruins:

“It’s in the morning when the sadness comes
The tears fall down in patterns on the windows
And our shape is undone
You only wanted holding
And I let my structure fail you”

Longing and regret.

“How can I explain why it’s safer when
I feel alone”

The record with my favorite cover art is…

Boards of Canada – Music Has the Right to Children

Beautiful and unsettling, Music Has the Right to Children has one of those album covers that just looks exactly how the music sounds. First off, the synths are the sound of that faded blue/green color. More import: the blank faces. This is a record that you can project any emotion onto and you will find it, although it will carry a certain uncanniness. The blank face: human without the human. Nearly human. Boards of Canada find the human in machines. Something is always a little off.

The strangest LP I own is…

Velvet Cacoon – Genevieve

When I first got this Velvet Cacoon record I bought it because it was on Southern Lord and knew nothing about their wild, mostly untrue, backstory–the diesel harps, the stolen albums–and it was still fucking weird. The singer sounds like they are slurping through some sort of feeding tube. The guitars are cobwebs. I can’t imagine a black metal “hoax” making people so upset these days, but either way the music on Genevieve is otherworldly. Bonus points for the faux velvet album cover. More bonus points for making me want to experiment with DXM when I was seventeen.

The rarest LP I own is…

Love – Forever Changes

I really don’t care at all about collector culture, but I recently saw Forever Changes on the wall of a record store with a high price tag, so maybe my copy is rare?
Either way this album is essential. Depression meets psychedelia:

“I don’t know if I’m living or if I’m supposed to be”

The last LP I bought was…

Elizabeth Colour Wheel – Nocebo

I buy records pretty infrequently these days. When I do buy an album it is always either from friends or something that is truly special. Nocebo by Elizabeth Colour Wheel is both.

Nocebo is the first guitar based record I’ve been absolutely obsessed with in a long time. ECW can make me think of Portishead, Unwound and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma all within the same song while sounding nothing like those projects. Lane, Bill, Emmett, Connor and Alice work together to create a specific sound world, a feeling I can’t explain with words. I can’t wait to go on tour with them, Nocebo is a masterpiece.

• • • • • • • • • •

The latest release from Drowse, Light Mirror, was released through The Flenser on June 7, 2019. You can purchase the digital download or vinyl version here.

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