Sven Torstenson's notorious Drugs is a loopdigga's fever dream, bursting with breaks for days and featuring possibly the most iconic cover of all library music's cult classics. First released in 1980, it's now a hyper-rare and seriously sought-after electronic album full of experimental soundscapes and samples just waiting to be flipped. It's both terrifying and terrifyingly good. So much so, it's been brilliantly sampled by Kendrick Lamar and Chance The Rapper.
The sleeve describes Drugs as containing "the newest dimensions of electronic sounds. Dramatic underscores for all problems of today's life and society, at the border between reality and delusion." That's pretty spot-on. The fast moving "Euphoria" is an incredible, unignorable opener. It's loaded with disorientating effects and really needs to be heard to be believed. It's followed by the gorgeous "Soft Hallucinations", containing quiet, meditative and beautiful sounds - as the title suggests. One listen and you'll want to live in the warm embrace of this beatless, harmonic gem. Sinister squelchy synth stabs don't distract from the sheer beauty of the track's main (gentle) thrust. They only serve to elevate its trippy magic.
Next up, "Sky Move"'s agitated and repetitive rhythm makes it an intense listen but with a broad melody that will appeal to many. "Destroyed Dreams" utilises a muffled church organ and it sounds heavenly to begin with but it gradually invites increasingly distorted elements. Yes, you've had trips like this, we're pretty certain. Mental! Talking of bad trips, never have they sounded so good as "Horror Trip"; this fractured drama-synth just needs some some dusty beats to hold it up - get involved.
"Floating Illusions" almost sounds like a beatless Spiritualized bomb from the early-mid 90s; melodic, synthy, church organ-drenched. The mournful, dramatic "Lost Chance" pulses along on a bed of acidy synths whilst "The Morning After" is the sonic equivalent of the extreme fear and doom experienced in the aftermath of the previous night's carnage. Whilst somewhat uncomfortable listening, again, it's pretty compelling thanks to the myriad effects being expertly utilised. Fascinating. The sprawling, fragmented "Random Thoughts" is described as containing "confused melody phrases" - yeah, pretty much sums this one up.
The B-Side is ushered in by "Heroin" and it's as sketchy as you might think, all mysterious minor chords with a dominating - but not overbearing - bass refrain. Next up, the dream-like synthy fanfare of "Night Trip" climaxes after a few minutes of dramatic, ecclesiastical sounds whilst "Day Trip" layers its melody over a repetitive rhythmic base.
Next up, one of the *REAL* highlights makes itself known. Absolutely not to be missed, "Dealer's Corner" is all shifting tenors from quiet to hectic and back around again. The hectic parts are like a totally synthed-out-the-eyeballs jazz-funk collective wigging out with the latest electronic toys from 1980. This one totally SMOKES.
The dramatic "Sad And Hopeless" is appositely replete with dissonant, minor church-organ chords whilst "Riding Pegasus" uses a creepy ostinato bass melody to create irrational bleepy menace that's ripe for sampling. The penultimate track, "Hopeless Chaos" is another disorientating trip, a bleepy confection of sounds and phrases whilst closer "Goin' Mad" is all electronic percussion with an unpleasant rhthymic feel and irritating melody. Music to annoy your partner with!
Established in Munich in 1965 by Gerard and Rotheide Narholz, Sonoton introduced library music to Germany. Initially intended to cater to the country's new TV market, the library also provided an avenue for Gerhard Narholz's astonishing musical prolificacy, and soon became a haven for a wide range of European composers and musicians. In 1969, Sonoton struck a deal with the British label Berry Music for international publishing rights, exposing its catalog to a worldwide audience; when Berry was bought out by EMI in 1973, Sonoton transitioned into a full-fledged international label, with successes in the library and commercial fields and many innovations to its credit. Now a worldwide operation with hundreds of producers and composers under its employ, Sonoton nonetheless remains an independently run business still helmed by its founders - a remarkable achievement in an era when nearly every other major library has been absorbed by a multinational conglomerate.
The audio for Drugs has been remastered by Be With regular Simon Francis, ensuring this release sounds better than ever. Cicely Balston's expert skills have made sure nothing is lost in the cut whilst the original, iconic sleeve has been restored here at Be With HQ as the finishing touch to this long overdue re-issue.
A1 Euphoria 1:49
A2 Soft Hallucinations 2:00
A3 Sky Move 2:40
A4 Destroyed Dreams 2:06
A5 Horror Trip 1:39
A6 Floating Illusions 2:23
A7 Lost Chance 1:46
A8 The Morning After 3:15
A9 Random Thoughts 1:12
B1 Heroin 2:44
B2 Night Trip 2:54
B3 Day Trip 1:21
B4 Dealer's Corner 3:23
B5 Sad And Hopeless 1:53
B6 Riding Pegasus 3:32
B7 Hopeless Chaos 2:15
B8 Goin' Mad 2:0