Stars of the lid
Who are ‘Stars of the Lid’, exactly? And what is Ambient Drone? It’s a music that blends ambience and ‘drones’ to create songs that sound like one song that lasts forever. Ooh, clever. It’s linked with chillout music, and ‘Stars of the Lid’ aim to make soundtracks for your mind.
Ambient-Drone is a music genre blending ‘drones’ (repeated notes and sounds, tone clusters, and other sound effects) and ambience together. This type of music tends to have tracks that blend into one another, creating a song sequence or album that blends into itself and makes it seem as if one song, though continually changing, lasts a very long time. Some say that the roots of Ambient-Drone go back to traditional music and world musicians like Ravi Shankar, whose style and music was popularized by George Harrison in the 60s and 70s. Ambient-Drone tends to be associated also with new age, cosmic, and chillout genres.
Stars of the Lid is one of the better known groups who create these intriguing and sometimes relaxing tunes. I first heard them on somafm.com , a radio station based on the west coast of the USA that specializes in playing off-beat or alternative music. (It’s very cool and I recommend checking the station out or supporting it). Stars of the Lid was formed in Austin, Texas in 1993 and consists of two members, Brian McBride and Adam Wiltzie.
The name of the band is explained by the members as being ‘Your own personal cinema, located between your eye and your eyelid’. Awesome, right?
Their first album was ‘Music for Nitrous Oxide’, released in 1995. The others are ‘Gravitational Pull vs. The Desire for an Aquatic Life’, ‘The Ballasted Orchestra’, ‘Per Aspera ad Astra’, ‘Avec Laudenum’, ‘The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid’, ‘Maneuvering the Nocturnal Hum’, ‘Carte de Viste’, and ‘Stars of the Lid and their Refinement of the Decline’. They released also The Kahanek Incident, Vol. 3 with rock/ambient band ‘Labradford’ and ‘Split’ with the band ‘Winsdor for the Derby’, all between 1995-2008.
Additionally Adam Wiltzie and Bobby Donne (member of Labradford) released an album, ‘Aix Em Klemm’ in 2000 which was also voted the best underground album of that year. This particular album has a fragile, desolate, empty and almost melancholic sound that only Ambient-Drone sound could achieve so well.
Some of the songs that I particularly enjoy by Stars of the Lid are ‘Requiem for Dying Mothers, parts 1 and 2’, ‘Tippy’s Demise’, and ‘The Luxury of Dirt’ (by Aix Em Klemm).
Other Ambient Drone bands similar to SOTL are ‘Labradford’, ‘Sunn O)))’, ‘Explosions in the Sky’, ‘Slowdive’ (though slowdive is more dream-pop), ‘Abakus’, ‘Riceboy Sleeps’ and artist ‘Jonas Lindgren’.