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The Big Takeover Issue #94
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Gary Dranow - Chaos (self-released)

8 February 2024

As a writer, I tend to find that there are artists I like and artists I enjoy writing about. The former is music that speaks to you, and the latter is music which allows you to find exciting ways of making your review talk to the reader. They are not always the same thing. “Horses for courses”, as we say on my side of the Atlantic. But, Gary Dranow, even over the short time I have been aware of his music, has always ticked both boxes. Great music to listen to and to turn into words.

You may not know which musical version of him is going to turn up due to his guise as a sonic chameleon; able to be perfectly at home amongst traditional, electric blues and proto-metal, folk-infused rock balladry as well as of-the-moment alternative music as the mood takes him. But that is what makes things so interesting. As the needle hits the record and the pen is poised over the page, what follows is up for grabs. (Sorry, more British-isms.)

And this time, it is something different again. Chaos is both folky and understated yet powerful and anthemic. A blend of acoustic spaciousness and effect-soaked walls of guitar noise, it moves at a suitably slow, reverential pace to do its subject justice.

The subject here is liberty and freedom, democracy, specifically that of Ukraine, under attack in the face of tyranny and terror. It also reminds us that is in times of war that petty squabbles in the political areas and public squares of friends and allies are put into perspective, and those with different domestic agendas are galvanized into unity. (The unaddressed question found between the lyrical lines is why it seems to take such terrible acts to bring about such the bonds of unity; maybe that is for another time, another song.)

As always, there is plenty to unpick and unpack, which, as I said on the way in, makes the writing process all the more enjoyable. And if you are not here for the message of the song, sonically, it has plenty to offer, too.