Music

Weeks Island's 'Droste' Is a New High Water Mark in Ambient Steel (EP stream) (premiere)

Photo: Will Hagan / Courtesy Howlin' Wuelf Media

Lost Bayou Ramblers' Jonny Campos turns up as Weeks Island with Brian Eno/Cluster-inspired music straight from the bayou. Hear Droste in full ahead of its release on Friday.

Droste is the first EP of ambient steel guitar music from Weeks Island, masterminded by Jonny Campos, lead guitarist of Cajun band Lost Bayou Ramblers. The EP, mixed by Turk Deitrich (Belong and Second Woman), arrives via digital download and streaming services on 4 April.

"I started recording the Weeks Island material in a panic during the Lost Bayou Ramblers hiatus of 2019," Campos recalls. "With few gigs on the horizon, the need to create came on strong and fast. After two short recording sessions with fellow Rambler, Kirkland Middleton, I had the rough material for what became the DrosteEP. Luckily, my day job connected me to Turk Deitrich of Belong and Second Woman. Over the years, our shared affection for Brian Eno, Cluster, Neu!, etc. made me realize he'd have the perfect sensibilities to mix it."

With ambient steel sounds gaining ground in recent times, via the likes of Suss and others, Campos reflects on those who laid the groundwork for Weeks Island. "Eno and Lanois' seminal Apollo: Atmosphere & Soundtracks planted the seed and Saariselka's The Ground Our Sky was the launching pad for even attempting ambient pedal steel music," he says. "I've played with pedal steel for about 15 years and never had a teacher. Not having the chops to be a slick Nashville player pushed me to be a little more creative. I started bowing the steel with a cello bow and using a loop pedal to build small string arrangements."

The five pieces that comprise Droste are never less than exhilarating, brief portraits/ruminations of a world, whether real or imagined, where something unearthly takes over and the listener is carried away. A truly utilitarian collection, Droste sets a new standard in this small but important subset of music.

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