‘Record store guy’s head explodes and the critic is speechless!’ Questions of genre in drone metal
This article examines questions of genre in the translocal and marginal music culture of drone metal, a radically slow and extended form of metal founded on extremes of amplification, distortion and repetition. I examine the tentative formation of genre in connections forged between musicians and between recordings, establishing sonic and symbolic conventions. I note the deliberate associations with bands (notably Black Sabbath) that situated this music as metal. I then turn to the role of listener discourse in constituting genre, attending to listeners’ experience of and communication about the key terms ‘drone’ and ‘metal’. After noting the importance of vagueness and ambiguity in genre designations, particularly in drone metal’s translocal marginality, I show that relevant genre characteristics for listeners include not just musical sounds but also affective, experiential, embodied and conscious subjective states. Finally, I suggest that treating genre as a constellation of points, viewed in different but related ways from different standpoints, is particularly useful in understanding drone metal as a loosely constituted genre with fragmented, disparate and intermittently connected audiences.
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Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: The Open University
Publication date: 01 September 2016
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