January 2020 West Coast Shows

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To start off the year I will be playing a number of West Coast solo shows. A few of them will be alongside my friends and new label-mates Sprain. The first show is tomorrow in Portland and Willamette Week has published a full-page Drowse article/interview in advance of the show at Black Water tomorrow. It reads as a detailed summation of what I’ve been up to artistically this past year, with some discussion of the future. Thanks to Daniel Bromfield for writing this thoughtful piece:


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Roadburn 2020


It feels like a dream to announce that I will be performing at Roadburn 2020 in the Netherlands. It’s an honor to be asked to be part of this festival, and I’m so excited to play it alongside my friends in Elizabeth Colour Wheel and fellow Flenser artists Midwife, Mamaleek, and Giles Corey. I’m still in a grateful daze wrapping my head around how my home recordings are taking me to a place like this.

From Roadburn:

“Drowse is an outlet for Kyle Bates to explore his place in the world; his music echoes what he experiences on the varied paths of this internal-reflection. Sometimes those paths lead to extraordinary places – this year’s Light Mirror LP was inspired by an isolated trip to northern Iceland where he took up an artistic residency in 2018. The melancholic results are the sonic equivalent of a sliver of sunlight permeating an otherwise bleak and drizzly morning. The weight of Bates’ reflections is mighty, but it never quite succeeds in suffocating the shards of harmonious hope that glint in the winter sun.

Drowse both straddles and eschews multiple genres – the fuzziest parts of noise pop, the more melodic elements of black metal, the more clearly defined corners of ambient electronic music are all present – ultimately creating something unique. Artists that push their own boundaries and those of multiple genres are always on the Roadburn radar, and we’re very proud to welcome Drowse to the festival as part of The Flenser showcase. If Drowse is not yet on your radar, Light Mirror is an excellent starting point – but you may also find yourself enticed by a recent collaboration with Otay:onii (AKA Elizabeth Colour Wheel’s Lane Shi), titled Second Self.

Drowse will perform as part of The Flenser showcase at Roadburn 2020.

Becky Laverty / November 2019″


Split With AMULETS


Whited Sepulchre Records have released a split cassette between Drowse and Portland-based audiovisual tape loop artist AMULETS. This release is largely composed from guts and scraps of the album Light Mirror. “Wind Through the Door” and “Hidden Close” were the two initial pieces recorded for that album, while “A Song I Made In 2001 With My Friend Who is Now Dead (Director’s Cut)” is the original version of the Light Mirror song of the same name. “Your Breath is Wind” is a newer experiment that extends the “air” theme present in all of these songs. Heavy use of a field recorder is another thread–listen intently to unravel more.


From WSR:

“The two Portland experimental artists paired together on a split feels like a natural extension of a sonic space the two have been circling for years.

Most known for his experimentation in crafting lovingly warped tape loops and ambient guitar work that rings out with an emotional clarity even when it is processed beyond recognition, Randall Taylor brings some of his most abstract work to the table with a track like “ASTRAL” and hits squarely in the chest with the heartbreaking “DISMANTLED”.

AMULETS is joined by drowse – Kyle Bates long running experimental project. drowse’s songs are known for stitching together deconstructed ambient passages that glow with a pale gray light with heavy subject matter that delve into unflinching personal accounts of mental health and loss.

We are honored to bring these two artists together to share a split cassette together.

Art & Layout by Dustin Bowen”

“Second Self” Mini-LP

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Following the release of two Flenser labelmates’ albums earlier this year, Kyle Bates from Drowse has teamed up with Lane Shi from Elizabeth Colour Wheel on a new mini-LP titled Second Self.  Side A of this 4-song release is a collaborative effort between Bates & Shi; the songs were composed by Bates in the first half of 2019. The tracks were then sent to Shi, who based her lyrics and vocal melodies around a dream that the music drew her back to.  About this dream, Shi says:
“The frustration of communication is a beast, sometimes you slay the beast, other times the beast slays you, in between the communication and frustration it is the footsteps of the clicking clock, otherwise silence. If there’s a space land I can go to, it would be the trace to find the coffin of this beast, lay down right next to it, and wait for no one to come find me.” The end result is the full Side A of Second Self.
Second Self Side B features two tracks written and recorded by Bates during his artist residency in Itoshima, Japan, in December 2018 and at home in Portland, OR in early 2019.  The title track, “Second Self,” was originally composed as the audio component to the artist’s installation of the same name. “Weak, Sleeping,” closes out the mini-LP with Bates’ weighty and worrisome lyrics.
Second Self will be available digitally everywhere on September 20th.  The vinyl version will be released exclusively as part of the The Flenser Membership Series at a later date. This Membership Series is a curated selection of new Flenser releases; members receive seven LPs and two 7 inches and all are special editions unique to members only, either special vinyl colors or supplemental artwork that isn’t available to anyone else. Second Self will not be sold on vinyl outside of the the Series One Membership.  More information on The Flenser’s membership series can be found here.
Drowse released its pivotal third full-length Light Mirror last June on The Flenser, and supported the release with a West Coast / Pacific Northwest tour with Elizabeth Colour Wheel.  The latter released their debut full-length Nocebo last March, also on The Flenser.
More news from Drowse + Elizabeth Colour Wheel in the coming months.
Drowse, Second Self Track Listing:
2. Open, Alone (Drowse & Lane Shi Otayonii)
3. Second Self
4. Weak, Sleeping

Light Mirror Released

Light Mirror is released today! Isolation and vulnerability.
This album marks the first time I’ve been able to translate my intention directly into sound, not fighting against my microphones and computer, but working with them to create something I am deeply proud of. The year of obsession is over. “What is it that resonates in us in response to noise brought to harmony?”

Drowse Light Mirror Cover Art by Norah Fuchs

“Bipolar 1” Music Video

The music video for “Bipolar 1” from Light Mirror is out. I worked on this video obsessively for about a month last December, I’m very proud to be able to share it with you.

This song came to me while I was re-reading my medical chart and thinking about my bipolar 1 diagnosis. I have always resisted this diagnosis and I refused to take Lithium after the first couple of years. I resist it because I am scared of it. It fits too perfectly. As a result, I never sleep very well and sometimes have paranoid delusions (“voices in the night”) that I hide from others.

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“Bipolar 1” is largely about the manic self of bipolar disorder, a version of Kyle that feels totally alien to me when I try to remember periods of life when he was dominant. The manic side of me finds “god”–meaning in life–in music, but the depressed side sees this as a delusion; Drowse songs are identified as “fence posts:” when I write these songs I feel safe because I am creating my own world, in turn working on this music builds a fence around me that closes me off further from other people.

The video was initially utilized–with Light Mirror in mind–for my installation work, Second Self, which was developed and exhibited during a residency at Studio Kura in Fukuoka, Japan. It was created through my practice of internal mapping, in this case cataloging physical things my unconscious self was drawn to while walking. Visual patterns emerged as hours of footage were edited down to this four minute piece. The footage was ripe with images of (self) deception–smoke and mirrors.


“Light Mirror” LP

Drowse Light Mirror Cover Art by Norah Fuchs

“Between Fence Posts” is streaming everywhere now, listen and read about it on Stereogum.

The simplest questions are often the most difficult to answer.

In April of 2018, Drowse’s Kyle Bates left his home in Portland, OR for an artist residency in barren northern Iceland. Much of Bates’ time there was spent in self-imposed isolation, giving him ample space to ponder the nature of solitude, and what it means to be “closed” or “open” to the world. Upon returning home, Bates worked obsessively. Maya Stoner, his longtime creative partner, sometimes came to sing, but recordings where mostly done alone. The dichotomy of his Icelandic musings materialized in a very real way as he neglected his personal relationships in favor of his art. While he was confronting his life-long fear of intimacy, and reconciling himself to a diagnosis of Bipolar 1, Bates found that the means he employed to conquer these obstacles—self reflection through art—carried with them an equal measure of misery. Light Mirror, Drowse’s second album for The Flenser, is a subtle exploration of these contradictory attitudes and their consequences that can be heard as an artifact of sonic self-sabotage.

Light Mirror falls within a lineage of overcast Pacific Northwest albums (think Grouper’s Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill), but finds Drowse pushing past its slowcore roots. The album’s prismatic sound reflects experimental electronic, noise pop, black metal, krautrock, and more through Kyle’s distinct song-worlds. The lyrics are ruminations on the idea of multiple selves, identity, paranoia, fear of the body, alcohol abuse, social media, the power of memory, the truths that are revealed when we are alone, and the significance of human contact. They were influenced by filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky and poet Louise Glück, who both address self-contradiction. Mastered by Nicholas Wilbur (Mount Eerie, Planning for Burial) at the Unknown, the album showcases a striking maturation in sound. Light Mirror is Drowse’s most intimate and desolate work to date.


Drowse Light Mirror Press Photo Kyle Polaroid 1 crop Matt Vrvilo

The special edition includes a replica of the production journal Kyle Bates kept while recording Light Mirror alongside a short story written during the same time period. Interspersed with anxious personal digressions, the journal is a vivid glimpse into the artist’s process. The story speaks to the album’s themes and serves to deepen its world.

Light Mirror will be out june 7th 2019.





Japan Artist Residency Journal

A collection of moments from my residency in Itoshima, Fukuoka, Japan.


Japan residency week one:

I arrived in Fukuoka exhausted; with a tired sense of wonder I ventured out into the city late at night and my phone quickly died. I was lost and without the language to communicate–I felt free. The next night I saw some psychedelic bands and had a stunted conversation about Can. I saw some head-spinning work at the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum and then took the bus to Itoshima: the quiet coastal town where I am living in a traditional rural home with two other artists.
During the day I drift around the countryside shooting video and work on a solo set for the shows I’m playing here. At night I drink Japanese whiskey, drone out, and try to write. I’m not entirely alone but it’s close enough.


Japan residency week two:

This week was largely spent indoors with my music equipment spread out across the tatami mats on the floor of my room, practicing the live versions of new Drowse songs for the show. My first show in Japan felt like a true accomplishment–I played an entirely new set with a new setup, alone in front of room of people who had mostly never heard my music. I got lots of good feedback, some of the other artists came to watch me, and the other bands were so cool, from Maru303 with his modular synth trances to Kelp with their psychedelic, heavily experimental jazz.
After the show the people in Kelp took me out to drink and we wound up at a sushi bar at two in the morning. Standing there, drinking highballs and eating sashimi, talking music and literature while not totally understanding each other, and basking in leftover light from the show filled me with an indescribable warmth.


Second Self Postcard:

Here is a flyer/postcard and description for Second Self, another Drowse show in Japan happening this weekend–it is an interactive audiovisual installation I’ve been working on this past month. It features twelve minutes of audio and video work that will be manipulated live and presented alongside twelve pages of writing. This show precedes and compliments a collection of new music I will be releasing next year.


Japan residency week three:

I completed and exhibited my installation, Second Self,–twelve minutes of video and sound, 3,520 words–and gave a short talk about it (thanks to Katsura for translating). It was awesome to see all of the other exhibitions; I was also lucky enough to go to two pretty incredible shows, Acid Mothers Temple with Macmanaman, and my friend’s baroque/noise project, 密笑. Tonight I got to have a sake filled Christmas Eve dinner with my friends from Kelp (who also play in Macmanaman, and 密笑). A week of hard work and sensory overload.


Japan residency week four:

The week began in a post-exhibition glow; I spent my last days in Itoshima biking around, journaling on the beach, and finishing up a new music video. Soon it was time to pack up my gear and head to Tokyo, where I stayed in a hostel in Koenji for five days. I had amazing luck with shows and was able to see Boris with Michio Kurihara, (they played almost the entirety of one of my favorite albums, Rainbow) as well as Keiji Haino (who at 66 played a wildly experimental set for three hours strait). I also went to a depressing exhibition called Catastrophe and the Power of Art at the Mori art museum, which clashed with my heightened mood: a grounding reminder of the sadness that never seems to be far from my chest.
On New Year’s Eve I stayed up to watch the sunrise on the roof of my hostel. As the giant ball rose above Tokyo’s skyline, I reflected: maybe years change like mood cycles, 2017 was one of the darkest years of my life, while 2018 was one of the greatest–I toured a ton with people I was close to (starting with SXSW), put out two records (one with Drowse, one with Floating Room) and a split, played shows and did residencies in Iceland and Japan, and made lasting friendships with people from all over the world. There will be a new Drowse record coming out that I am extremely proud of–I can’t wait to share it with you.