drew mcdowall (UK)
Scottish born, Brooklyn based electronic artist Drew McDowall was born and raised in Paisley, an area just outside of Glasgow, and came of age during a time when the city was one of the most dangerous places in the world. Caught up in the prevalent gang culture of Scotland’s destroyed industrial cityscape, McDowall found a way out of the daily violence as punk took hold of the UK’s disenchanted youth. In 1978, he formed the lo-fi post-punk band, The Poems, with then wife, Rose McDowall, who would later rise to mainstream acclaim as one half of Strawberry Switchblade. Though shortly realized, the Poems allowed McDowall to network and collaborate with other local musicians in Glasgow, such as Orange Juice, and granted him access to travel down to London, thus forming friendships with Genesis P-Orridge, David Tibet and countless others, bringing Drew into the fold of the experimental cultural revolution happening in England brought upon by Throbbing Gristle and executed by groups such as Psychic TV and Current 93.
During the tumultuous 1980’s, McDowall found himself in the ranks of P-Orridge’s Psychic TV collective and collaborating with the arcane occult duo comprised of former Throbbing Gristle creator Peter ‘Sleazy’ Christopherson and the enigmatic John Balance who had been creating esoteric and progressive electronic music under the banner of Coil. It was during these formative collaborations with Coil that McDowall saw himself shift from occasional contributor to austere full-time member. McDowall’s impact on the band’s sound was immediate, and apparent, as the releases transformed from their previous avant-pop signature to a more complex and methodic electronic imprint accompanied by even more abstruse subject matter and abstract formulations than previous years. McDowell was instrumental in the creation of Time Machines, of top the most influential drone works of the last 20 years would continue honing his compositional skills with Coil until the bands two most lauded albums, “Astral Disaster” and “Music to Play in the Dark” at which point he left the project and his native home to relocate to the United States.
For the last 17 years Drew McDowall has lived in New York City and found a welcoming home in the city’s experimental music community. In 2011, alongside his friend and collaborator, Tres Warren (Psychic Ills), McDowall found himself exploring his passion of meditative drone and abstract sound patterns in their project Compound Eye. He has collaborated with Croatian Amor, Varg, Puce Mary, Marshstepper and many others. Outside of his collaborative duties, McDowall formed an audience as a solo artist, playing countless performances and showcases around New York’s electronic music venues and festivals.
Drew McDowall released his debut solo album entitled “Collapse” on Dais Records in September 2015 and has subsequently toured the United States and Europe. With Unnatural Channel, released on Dias Records in May 2017, using his signature ambient ebb and flow coupled with patterns of fibrous metallic waveforms and reverberated percussions that have been pulled and spun around the spectrum he continues to dissect subterranean themes and explore how to comprehend and subsequently engage with the contemporary world that emerges from the disintegration of various mental, physical, and emotional terrain.
Concert Performance: Time Machines
“4 Tones to facilitate travel through time.” So begins the listeners’ journey into what has become one of the most treasured and revered pieces of COIL history ever released.
Each of the four pieces on Time Machines is named after the chemical compound of the hallucinogenic drug that they were composed for, and the album was meticulously crafted to enable what John Balance referred to as “temporal slips” in time and space, allowing both the artist and audience to figuratively “dissolve time”.
Inspired by long form ceremonial music of Tibet and other religions, where the intent is to lose oneself in the music – to meditate or achieve a trance state – Time Machines became Drew McDowall, John Balance, and Peter Christopherson’s “electronic punk-primitive” answer to this tribal concept.
Starting as a rough demo tape recorded solely by Coil member Drew McDowall, Time Machines started to take full form when McDowall enthusiastically delivered these demo recordings to Balance and Christopherson as sketches for a new Coil project with the primary goal of shifting Coil’s sound further into a more conceptually abstract direction. Largely recorded in 1997 using single takes with minimal post production, these four drones contain every intended fluctuation and tone, along with every glitch of the original – “Artifacts generated by your listening environment are an intrinsic part of the experience.”