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Dave Schoepke

Drums on Low

Review by Gary Hill
This new release features only one thing – drums. These aren’t drum solos, though, but rather songs composed strictly for drums. It is important to note that I’m not actually a fan of drumming. It takes a lot for drumming to impress me, and other than Neil Peart, Bill Bruford and maybe one or two other guys, I don’t like drum solos. In some ways that seems to make me the wrong guy to review this. On the other hand, it might make me more qualified than a drum fanatic because it means that I will hear it more like a non-drummer listener might. With that in mind, don’t expect technical drum jargon in my review, because this is focused on what it sounds like for the non-percussion-minded.

I have landed this under progressive rock because of the experimental nature of it. Honestly, prog fans are probably more open to experimental stuff than just about any other audience would be. I really applaud the adventurous attitude of this. I will also say that I’m impressed with the way an album of drumming can be made to sound like a series of different songs rather than just one long drum solo. Am I apt to listen to this often? No. But, I can see the charm in it. I can see the art in it. If you are more of a drum person, I bet you will really love this thing. If it can keep the interest of someone like myself from start to finish, there has to be something cool going on here.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
War of the Grasshoppers
Dramatic percussion really does seem to paint a picture of a war, with both sides delivering barrages of sound.
Which One ARE You?
Raucous and less focused, there is a real freeform nature to this. It gets pretty powerful before it’s over.
N'ging
A bit restrained at the start, there is a definite martial element at play. I dig the cool side-to-side, fast-paced thing at the end.
Window
There is a tribal vibe as this number starts. Some particularly low register stuff later is interesting, and the drumming gets really involved and inspired down the road.
The Throw
Built with some intriguing shifts, this is a more freeform kind of cut in terms of the feeling to it. There are more powered up and more restrained sections.
Sound on Low
More understated and exploratory, this does feature the sound on low. It gets a bit louder later, though. There are some intriguing bells and chimes and things further down the road, too.
Eleven Three
I dig the drama of this piece. There is sort of sense of mystery here, along with something exotic. It’s a bit sparse at times, but ever-present, too.
The Thing from the Darkness
There is dialog that seems to be from a film or radio show. Given how the setting is described in detail, I’m guessing radio show. The drumming seems quite crazed on the first part of this piece. It gets more restrained later.
Pool-Pond
I dig the rhythmic groove of this piece. It’s one of my favorite things here. At times I’m reminded of John Bonham a bit.
Tangles
This powerhouse also has a cool groove to it. It’s energetic and one of the standouts here.
Four Twenty Six
The sound here seems a bit distant at times. The drumming is quite involved on this closer. This feels like it has some jazz drumming and some classical built into it. The opening portion is more powered up and busy, while some of the later stuff has a sparser arrangement, particularly mid-track.
 
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