|Studio album by The Drones|
|Released||September 2, 2006 (AUS)
October 8, 2006 (UK)
|Recorded||March 13–19, 2005|
|The Drones chronology|
|The Age||(not rated) link|
|Mess+Noise||(not rated) link|
|Pitchfork Media||(8.4/10) link|
|Sydney Morning Herald||(Positive) link|
Recorded in a mill on an isolated 10,000-acre (40 km2) farm on Tasmania’s east coast, Gala Mill is an album full of extremes - moments of stark, ghostly beauty are set against outbursts of the dark, intense noise for which the band is renowned. The album’s sense of place is palpable - barking dogs and birdsong are heard between tracks, and the island’s history and atmosphere resonate through the songs.
Vocalist Gareth Liddiard says,
"We just wanted to go somewhere interesting, to steer clear of the boring old studio. Studios can feel like hospitals for sick bands. And acoustically, recording the album where we did played a huge part in how it ended up sounding."
Bassist Fiona Kitschin explains,
"The family who owns the farm and the mill have been there since the 1840s. It’s beautiful. There are all these orchards around it, a creek near there you can swim in... and it’s meant to be haunted. A woman apparently comes upstairs into the bedroom and cries. Although, we never saw anything. It’d probably be a better story if we had."
Like its setting, Gala Mill is unmistakably Australian - not in a sense of flag-waving patriotism, but rather in that it is unafraid to address Australian history and mythology. Liddiard says,
"That was a conscious thing. To make an Australian sounding record is something that’s been frowned upon over the years - it’s not cool. But cool is not cool, you know? You should just be what you are, it’s sad watching Australians trying to be Americans and Americans trying to be English and the English trying to be Americans."
The song "Words From The Executioner To Alexander Pearce" is based on Alexander Pearce a convict who escaped Sarah Island's penal settlement on Tasmania's west coast with seven fellow convicts in 1822. He was recaptured two months later alone. In 1823 he re-escaped with a fellow convict, Thomas Cox and again was returned alone. He was executed later having eaten six men during his escape attempts.
The first verse of "Sixteen Straws" is lifted from the traditional song "Moreton Bay". To avoid damnation by suicide, groups of catholic convicts would draw straws, the long and the short decided the deceased and his killer. The killer would then repent. The group would assume joint responsibility and be sentenced to death.
The album was nominated for the 2006 Australian Music Prize, the second year in a row that the band had been nominated, with Wait Long By The River and the Bodies of Your Enemies Will Float By winning the previous year. The prize was won by Augie March for their album Moo, You Bloody Choir. In October 2010, Gala Mill was listed in the top 30 in the book, 100 Best Australian Albums.
- "Jezebel" – 7:51
- "Dog Eared" – 4:53
- "I'm Here Now" – 7:45
- "Words From The Executioner To Alexander Pearce" – 5:15
- "I Don't Ever Want To Change" – 3:59
- "Work For Me" – 5:38
- "I Looked Down The Line And I Wondered" – 5:29
- "Are You Leaving For The Country" – 4:26
- "Sixteen Straws" – 9:35