I first heard about the transformative sonic immersions of Sister Waize on Dr. Schluss’ Garage of Psychedelic Obscurities. Dr Schluss operates a truly phenomenal blog.* It’s the Loaded to my Squeeze, and it’s where Sister Waize’s The Realignment Series garnered an exceedingly rare 5 out of 5 on the Trip-O-Meter (a finely calibrated and sensitive instrument, that). That score right there was enough to appeal to me so I listened to what I could find on Grooveshark, which was My Army of Stars Will Get Me There. It was exactly what I was hoping for, a crisp trip through synth arpeggiations recalling the more clear-eyed side of komische practitioners like Emeralds and Jonas Reinhardt. It was undeniably up my alley.
So when David Mekler, the aural architect behind Sister Waize, contacted me with possibly the most heartfelt review request I’ve ever received, I seized the opportunity, feeling, I’m not ashamed to admit, the faintest hiccup of fanboy excitement. After all, here was someone whose art I admire, and, it must be said, who I’ve heard of reaching out. It was a warm feeling.
So I downloaded The Realignment Series and gave it a listen and, well, it is safe to say that I was not anticipating what I found on at all. Based on my limited experience with Sister Waize, I was expecting chugging, Teutonic synth explorations. I was not expecting a drone record, and I certainly wasn’t expecting a monolithically huge slab of canyon-deep drones like this.
Because I’ll say it: I have never heard drones this deep. To listen to The Realignment Series is to be thrust entirely into roiling gray continental cloud-banks of sound. The music is directionless in the best possible way, suggesting scale and mass and intelligence and otherness and unfamiliarity on a Lovecraftian scale. It begs for that subset of adjectives and verbs we typically use for drone, ones that suggest an immersion, a transformation, a transportation from Here to There. And it sounds absolutely huge.
Everything about The Realignment Series takes time. No track is below 15 minutes in length, and most take around a minute for discernable sound to become detectable, a brilliant tactic that all but forces you to pay intensely close attention to these roiling gray continental cloud-banks of sound. Yes, my friends, I’m afraid this is one of those albums that demands the ol’ quality headphones treatment, as Sister Waize is almost obsessively detail-oriented, and a great amount of The Realignment Series‘s finer points will be lost if decent stereophonic speakers aren’t pressed up against your ears. This is true with most drone, but is particularly accurate here.
The closest thing I can compare the staggering size and engrossing scope of The Realignment Series to is Gas’s classic 2000 album Pop, which approaches similar depths of sensory-overwhelming mass, albeit by employing a much more humid, organic palette. The Realignment Series, by contrast, leans on sounds altogether more alien, ominous, and sterile. And with that frigid, unrelenting template, Sister Waize has crafted a starkly inexorable experience. It’s uncompromising, challenging, and undeniably rewarding.** It’s not at all what I was expecting, and that is fine by me.
*Something you probably already know. If you’re reading this blog, there’s about a one-in-one chance that you’ve read his.
**Mekler maintains a blog where you can download Sister Waize releases. (He terms My Army of Stars Will Get Me There ”progressive romantic bitpop.” Brilliant!) You can also read “instructions” for listening to his “folding drone,” as he terms it. One prescription suggests to begin by listening to one or two songs at a time on The Realignment Series before building up to the whole thing. I’d never disagree with a set of instructions straight from the artist himself, but I have to say that blocking off three hours of your time and losing yourself in the entire thing all at once sounds like an absolutely transformative way to spend a weeknight alone.