No Wake has been my favorite CD to listen to for the past couple weeks. Lest that sound like a backhanded comment, please keep in mind that over the course of a typical 7 days approximately 60-75 CDs cross my ears in one way or another. This debut release by Tulsa Drone not only nudged other releases out of the tray several times but usually ended up spinning just about every day. With its bleak cover and simple design, it seems like a fairly unassuming release, and while the group isn't doing anything mindblowingly new, they've still managed to carve out a unique niche for themselves and create some beautiful music within it.
Running just under 40 minutes with 9 tracks, the album could be called a long EP or a shorter full-length, but it oozes with mood and mystery in that time. Opening with "Chiaroscuro," the group pulls together a touch of Ennio Morricone soundtrack, a touch of Calexico, and the glorious sound of the hammer dulcimer. In fact, it's that last instrument which sort of becomes their secret weapon, lifting the release from fairly standard cinematic backing tracks to something unique and sometimes rather glorious. "Honcho Toro" cover similar territory, but changes things up just slightly, mixing chiming dulcimer over bone-dry guitar melodies and a sort of slow waltz rhythm that would probably even make a Godspeed You Black Emperor fan swoon (especially when the horns come in near the end).
Wisely, not all the songs on the disc feature driving rhythms, and it's when the group enters ambient/drone realms that things get even more beautiful. "D-A-F" folds ringing waves of delayed guitars over a repeating dulcimer melody while "The Devil Changes Colors" is an epic (almost 9 minutes) sound collage/drone track that again brings in horns to great effect while unfolding slowly and surely. On the closer of "Red's Theme," the group even recalls the great work of Labradford on their Mi Media Naraja album. This one will find repeat play most certainly. If you enjoy any of the aforementioned, hunt it down now.