22 May 2021
Ambient-Drone Industrial Doom | Southern Lord | Release date: 21 May 2021
If Game Of Thrones had been set in a post-apocalyptic location, then this would be the soundtrack to the Dragon Mother running amok in Season 8. Epic!
When the major band for all things ambient AND drone releases their 13th studio record, the world should stand still for a moment and sit back and behold. It doesn’t, but Aidan Baker and Leah Buckareff don’t care anyway, as they have never been superstars and even after nearly 100 releases they surely won’t achieve that status over night, if ever. But in certain circles they have been and will always be superstars, the duo which all be itself basically developed a new thing – partially sound, partially genre, partially attitude: And all of that can be heard on Luminous Rot!
For a long time, my friends have been calling me crazy, but I think that Nadja-songs are “danceable” and now they have come up with what might be their funkiest song ever, even though they will surely claim (as will I) that there have been such moments on former releases, too. But ignore that highly distorted guitar line underneath the song and focus on the drums – that is in a way a typical indie-track hidden in that huge amount of distortion and lack of wanna-be! One can easily envision Mia Wallace or Mallory Know slowly shaking their hips to that track, two ladies who can drive a man crazy and then – just “before” – kill him. The track corresponds perfectly with the cover of the record, which is seductively appealing with the rot (here the rusty brown tones) shining through all the over-brightly reds.
And with the next track, ”Cuts On Your Hands”, Nadja show once more how skilled they are at building a record. This 12,5 minute industrial monster is their equivalent to some slowly developing dark country tune, maybe something by William Elliott Whitmore or David Eugene Edwards. Sparsely played – but highly distorted with only a very simple cymbal beats (and nearly no toms or snares) underneath it. Random listeners won’t notice because they will only hear distortion and amplification. But if you imagine all of that as “gone” - there will be long pauses beneath the notes. Of course, distortion and reverb are key elements to Nadja making their sound quite unique.
The fact that the song effortlessly flows into the next offering called ”Starres”)with Leah taking the vocal lead) proves the duo to be among those who think in terms of an album. The song itself sounds like a track from Dark Buddha Rising or Ural Umbo (½ DBR, ½ Sum of R, btw) or Boris and of course everyone “in the scene” would agree that this might be some of the highest compliments possible – even though comparing these bands to Nadja vice versa would also be a compliment they would gladly take.
There is something about this record – as with a lot of their releases – that is unique in a way: it never sounds overly-complicated or “over-thought”, they still give each song its own flow and then bridge the gaps between those tracks. When ”Starres” ends in some kind of reverb back-and-forth it doesn’t seem overly intellectual, that is just their way of “fading out”. When the last track “Dark Inclusions” comes up you see, that the whole album has led up to this point and that everything culminates in this “straightforward” rocker with the drum-machine from one of those 80s sci-fi-classics, Blade Runner preferably.
To put it in a nutshell: If the sound of scratching and aching guitar and bass strings ever was seductive – Nadja would be the ones offering it. If one wants to follow – it’s up to you, but make sure you take time to dive into it. Luminous Rot is the “neon-sign” album that no one expected from Nadja, but that is one shiny diamond you shouldn’t miss if you like cold-wave, no-wave, industrial, ambient, drone … oh forget it. You will love it, if you like forward-thinking music.