Evening Drive Through The Sound – Keith Hanlon

Recently Columbus ambient-drone artist, producer, engineer, studio runner, and musician extradoriane Keith Hanlon released a re-mastered version of three tracks he recorded and released throughout 2018 and 2021. They now exist as a newly-mastered three-track album titled Evening Drive Through The Sound. “Evening Drive Through The Sound (2021),” “Side No. 2 (2021),” and “Electric Cloud (2020)” accompany each other quite nicely in a wave of pulsating, revolving ambience that can guide you through a pleasant walk, hectic workday, or, as the title suggests, an evening drive.

Evening Driving Through The Sound (Full Album) by Keith Hanlon

Ambient dusting in the background of opener “Evening Drive Through The Sound” mimics power lines surging, almost as if you could hear them whizzing with electricity as you’re passing by. Glowing strikes to a Rhodes eerily blend in, while distant swooshes awaken the feeling of energy being siphoned into a piano. The Rhodes slowly begins to dissipate and blend in about four minutes minutes in, starting to take a backseat just before we’re hit with a wall of broiling, haunting drone noises. 

This continues for 10-minutes plus before we hear the faint tapping of a drum kit over the final few minutes. Overall, “Evening Drive” carries also a heavy improvisational tone, as it was recorded as part of a live performance for Factory Streams: Live Vids for Covid Secret Studio performance in January 2021. (Hanlon is an owner-slash-engineer at Secret Studio, a multidisciplinary creative space for artists in Columbus.)

The Evening Drive track that sounds the most divorced from the rest is the deep, after-hours guitar routine tilted “Side No. 2.” By far the shortest of the three tracks, the centering middle of this album does its best to exacerbate the space that is set forth by the tracks on both sides of this album’s second song. Cymbals and percussive elements trickle in with three minutes to go, a lovely interlude into the final track. 

Out of all of these songs, none progresses slower than “Electric Cloud.” It comes in slow with a chorus that reflects a humming symphony of cricket-like noises. It seeps into a pleasantness about 10 minutes in, always evolving with hymnal tones. The reverb is very cinema-esque, towering over you as you’re guided through the night. When you get to this point of the album, it almost feels like you’ve gone through the entire course of watching a sunset. 

The release somewhat aligns with 2020’s An Eternity Of This, a five-song LP that Hanlon put out in November 2020. Two of the singles on Evening Drive were released a year after the album came out, while “Electric Cloud” was set into the wild seven months before An Eternity Of This’ release. Which means it’s not too offbase to think that these three Evening Drive tracks were conceived in the same headspace as Hanlon’s previous album; both awaken similar moods of roaring mysticism.

The difference – even though the LPs have similar running times – is that the percussive elements are much more alive and active on An Eternity Of This than this release, where here we’re hearing Hanlon stretch out his compositions in order to create a stillness that exacerbates ambient and drone noises. His previous LP also circles back to the start, while Evening Drive continues to push the boundaries of space and sound outside of the final recording.

Regardless of what ambient release Hanlon puts into our hands, he always seems to know which droning qualities are just meticulous enough to make your skin squirm. As for this collection of tracks, the droning sandwiching of “Side No. 2” – with each of its partnering songs stretching over 17 minutes – is what makes Evening Drive work as a cohesive LP, and why these songs are best enjoyed together.

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