[The 60's-70's Vault] Inside The Dream Syndicate - Drone Music in the 1970s

Inside The Dream Syndicate - Drone Music in the 1970s

It is interesting to speculate what part factors such as geography played in the creation of Drone, one of the many spawns of experimental music. We do know that its basic ingredient is minimalism, with sustained tones and little variations throughout the structure of a usually lengthy musical piece. Often, the genre pairs up with ambient music though they should not be confused, and while they share similarities, the latter is used to produce a certain mood or atmosphere with the use of synthesizers. Drone became popular in the 1970s due to significant development in studio technology that helped musicians to expand on their ideas. Let's dig into the most gripping releases of that decade and pack our bags to check in at several locations.

A unique collaboration provided outstanding experimental soundscapes. Robert Fripp and Brian Eno created two albums under the Fripp & Eno moniker that balance between ambient and drone music. The first one, (No Pussyfooting), was announced in 1973, with the tape delay looping and electric guitar effects dominating the two songs thus creating a well rounded piece of drone music.

Fripp & Eno - No Pussyfooting


Hailing from Finland, The Sperm, is a fine example of experimental music full of nonstandard vibrations. The band released its only album "Shh!" in 1970 achieving sound variations on this 50-minutes experience. Different instruments parade in the four tracks making it the most diverse drone record of the decade.

The Sperm - shh!

One can sense the big amount of twisted horns recorded for Urban Sax's debut album, released in 1977. The leading member of this french band was Gilbert Artman and the concept was to build a continuous sound through a range of saxophones and generate poly-rhythmic loops. The outcome is remarkable if not innovative and unparalleled. It is worth noting that the band members performed live with space suit-like costumes and gas masks adding to the enjoyment of hearing.

Urban Sax

Taj Mahal Travellers were formed in 1969 in Tokyo and produced two albums of drone excellency. Takehisa Kosugi was the mastermind behind those releases - the violin being his primary instrument - through which he shaped various droning sounds. Their second and last album titled "August 1974", was released in 1975 and accommodates four extended untitled tracks. The hypnotic improvisation is prominent on all of them and we can fairly say that this album is as close as possible to the sound of contemporary drone groups.

Taj Mahal Travellers - August 1974


Pythagoron, is possibly the most minimalistic and drone-ish album on this article. Issued in 1977 by the band of the same name, there is little info to drag apart from considering that the unit was based in New York. The record itself benefits the amplitude of synthesizers and delivers brainwave patterns of magnetic effects. The discreet use of drum machine on the second track only supports this contained string of sounds.

Pythagoron - Pythagoron

Another collaboration between the German Christina Kubisch and the Italian Fabrizio Plessi, put together the project "Two and Two" in 1976. Both of them proficient on their own field of expertise, the former an audio artist and the latter a visual artist, this work focuses on the natural elements (earth, fire, air, water) spread across the four pieces. An album of its own special status, as the pair used unidentified objects and projected their peculiar sounds through various amplification systems.

Christina Kubisch & Fabrizio Plessi - Two and Two

The last album to present is Visitations by Los Angeles based artist Jon Gibson. Full of massive harmonic sounds of flute, synths and percussion, the record adopts the sounds of nature and triggers an electrifying journey.

Jon Gibson - Visitations
Other notable albums:

Gregor Cürten & Anselm Rogmans - Planes (Germany, 1974)
Stuart Dempster - In the Great Abbey of Clement VI (USA, 1979)
Harry Bertoia - Swift Sounds / Phosphorescence (Italy, 1978)
La Monte Young - Dream House 78'' 17'' (USA, 1974)
David Rosenboom - Brainwave Music (USA, 1975)
Tony Conrad With Faust - Outside the Dream Syndicate (Germany, 1973)

By Pijo

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