Thursday, November 3, 2016
Album Review: Nadja - The Stone Is Not Hit By The Sun, Nor Carved With A Knife
Well, there’s definitely some progression here. More melody than before, some interesting warm tones and FX tweaks. But I’m getting ahead of myself. That mysterious album title – what gives? Well, it comes from a runic inscription on a Norwegian gravestone – the Eggja Stone – which actually provides some of the lyrical content on the record. And the tracks?
“The Stone” is loaded with elephantine potency. It twinkles like splintering glass falling upon its top layer, and sinks down to the alien, sub-aqueous thunder of metal under extreme pressure. After ten minutes, spasms of electric guitar kick in to set up the whirring, bass-heavy clank of some vast industrial machine. Blasts of steaming hiss squirt as if from pin-holes as ethereal voices whisper non-sequiturs and pistons drive the beast towards a semi-melodic, melancholic middle-section before returning to the melee.
“The Sun” is the lightest, most appealing prospect I’ve heard from Nadja for a good few years. With rich, ambient tones and emotive, spiralling stringwork, this plays like an ambient, post-rock track not too dissimilar to something from the back catalogues of Palms or OSI. There are vocals that whisper around the edge of your lobes, without ever taking root inside your ear canals. They are sung as if from behind some parallel dimension. There are waves, there is a beach and a sun and someone is talking close to your ear. It’s unsettling, and even more so when the whole image begins to dissolve into a dark malevolence of phantom-like white noise and subterranean crush. A wall of sound, sprawling, crawling and devouring all.
“A Knife” is far less ambitious than its compatriots. It’s a mixture of atmospheric, ambient drift, vibrant distortion and bristling fuzz and forms a 22-minute amorphous journey through a skyscape of sound.
Ultimately, each movement owns the space in which it exists, each differing in character, each stamping its authority upon the listener. Fans of drone and ambience will find these new worlds excitingly moreish. Is there enough to warrant repeat journeys? Considering its mammoth 79-minute runtime, maybe not for a while but, hell, we’re glad we visited.