Drowse is the work of Portland, OR artist Kyle Bates.
Following an EP and LP, "Memory Bed" was largely written and recorded using one microphone, a laptop and an acoustic guitar during a Summer spent working in Zamora, Spain. While traveling, Bates found himself returning to the dark sounds from around his home for inspiration--music of the Pacific Northwest such as Grouper, Mount Eerie, Velvet Cacoon, and Unwound. Organs and synths ooze from crackling guitars, noise groans in the distance and swallows voices; the sound mirrors the feeling of wandering unfamiliar landscapes, both outside and internally. Drowse also co-wrote two songs on Miserable's "Uncontrollable" LP ("Stay Cold" and "Salt Water").
"Memory Bed" plays with themes of detachment and memory and their relationship to the "self" from the perspective of someone who has suffered dissociative experiences. Heavily influenced by writers like Roland Barthes and Sarah Manguso, drowse works with ideas of “the self as text”, “making the personal public” and allowing space for the paradox to create new meaning. Maya Stoner of Portland band Sabonis lends her voice to every song and contributes lyrics to “Memory”. Her lyrics reflect on experiences with Bates; these lyrics are refracted in the song “Break”. “i” continues to explore the topic with the intent of all drowse recordings: to glimpse the unknowable self, to express the inexpressible through sound.
Noisey “It's a heartbreaking study of detachment and intimacy imbued with all of the wonder, pain, and uncertainty of returning from an emotional hiatus, like the aural equivalent of blood rushing back to a sleeping limb. ”
Spin "In the style of fellow Portland drone artists like Grouper and Velvet Cacoon, Drowse prioritizes music over lyrics, using vocals not to tell a story as much as add an instrumental layer to the music’s soothing fog. Barely any words are intelligible on this slow-building burner, whose most distinctive plot point occurs at the “break” a few minutes in. At this moment, the strum that opened the track falls victim to many coats of organs, synths, and unidentifiable noise groaning in the distance. ”
AV Club "It’s breathy, entrancing, and certainly a little bit eerie, falling somewhere between Grouper and a more stripped-back Death In June. Despite only nearing 15 minutes, it feels appropriately drawn-out as Bates fingerpicks acoustic guitars amid a haunting hum."
Clrvynt "The music trades reverb for bare instrumentals; it's easy to lose yourself in the light acoustic guitar. He's accompanied by Maya Stoner of Sabonis, who adds another beautiful vocal texture. The song is immaculate, illustrating that strides can be made in the genre with the barest of tools."
Tiny Mixtapes “Like a recollection chamber in an acoustic guitar, thundering, distant knocking rhythms a beat throughout the harmonized and layered vocals explaining the destiny of “Memory.” Backed by both aggressive and serene string-plucking, an echoing signal calls between the body and speaker, haloing a mirage before listeners of something feint in thought, but powerful in emotion. ”