Drowse is an ambient shoegaze/experimental recording project fronted by Portland, Oregon’s Kyle Bates. He has frequently collaborated with the Oakland doomgaze band Miserable, but his own music is more akin to stuff like Grouper and Mount Eerie. He’s been making music under the Drowse moniker since 2013, and has released one album and a few EPs. He has a new album Cold Air coming out in two weeks, and there’s a dark backstory to it. Bates suffered a mental breakdown many years ago and needed some antipsychotic medications to ease his pain. He went several years without any problems, but his problems resurfaced, and he drank a lot and took a lot of Klonopin to deal with it. During this time of heavy medication, he also experienced the death of a close friend, some family health problems, and some other unpleasant stuff. He channeled this dark stuff to write the songs that would become the Cold Air album. It’s an album about being filled with emotional pain, and being filled with drugs to kill the pain. And yes, it’s an album with some death imagery. Today’s song is obviously a reference to his medication.
Bates recently talked very candidly about it in an NPR interview
In the song I wake up from drug-induced sleep and imagine myself as the empty part of a shape imprinted in mud: a strange vision of shame. With this image in mind, I ruminate on how I’m ashamed of the way I force a wall between myself and others — on the inside I’m passionate, but I keep a cold, calculated distance from those I love. This fixation makes me anxiously waste my day, stumbling wistfully through my waking life until night comes and I can take Klonopin to forget myself again
Like the newest Mount Eerie record, this album is full of some dark and heavy imagery. It’s counterbalanced by the beautiful music and Bates’ honey-throated vocals. Bates is the only official member of the band, but his creative partner Maya Stoner provides backing vocals on a bunch of the songs, including today’s song. This is that song:
“Klonopin” by Drowse
I am reminded a bit of Mount Eerie, but more than that, I’m reminded of what Damon and Naomi might sound like if Krukowski and Yang were better singers.
I like this song a lot, and I like the other song from the album that I’ve heard. I think the entire album should do well at my house.
The video for the song is also definitely worth watching. Check it out here: