That is the problem with experiments. Most of the time they do not work. Guitar duo Barn Owl being a case in point, attempting to use alchemy to craft a swirling leviathan from the circuit boards of their pedals, only to be left with smoke, bluster and a vague sense of disappointment. Sure, all the pieces are in place; the overexposed, out-of-focus cinematic backdrop, bearded musicians with unkempt hair and a knowing audience, but the magic is entirely missing.

While on the album 'Ancestral Star' the waxing and waning guitar drones, disembodied chanting and hypnotic rhythms can are able to conjure an otherworldly place, this is completely absent on stage. Maybe it will come with time, but at present Barn Owl offer little more than - I never thought it would come to this - a pleasant drone gig. A nice saunter through the minor chords, pedestrian crescendos, prosaic release; with a name like Barn Owl – the most common type of owl – it may have been asking too much to transcend to a hypnotic otherworld.

Words like inconsequential, derivative and mawkish trip off the tongue – but that is a reflection of more of where we stand as a culture than an attack on the band. Listeners crave innovation and experimentation, almost at the expense of pathos, emotion, or connection. Any form of participation from the audience is replaced with a crowd of closed eyes seeking something which was never there. There are too many bands doing this kind of drone-lite for Barn Owl to take flight.












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Commenting On: City Arts and Music Project, London, 26/4/2011 - Barn Owl








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