Novy Zembler – Upstairs EP

Posted: 24 August 2021 in Singles and EPs
Tags: , , , ,

1st September 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

I’ve been listening to and covering Rick Senley’s work for so long now, it feels like forever. In actual fact, on checking, it appears my first encounter with his work was with the eponymous album released under the Music For Voyeurs moniker back in 2010. It feels like a different life. For me, it was, really. I was just wrapping up my PhD, and was yet to become a parent, and was cranking out fifty or sixty reviews a month, because I had time and energy.

The impact of combining home-schooling and full-time working from home is something that is difficult to articulate when it comes to the mental and physical fatigue. The short version is that I’ve slowed in my pace in recent months, and so much music has come to be so much wallpaper. But much as I lack energy, I don’t lack passion – but then, I do find so many acts are just utterly devoid of character.

But however weary of life I become, one thing about Rick Senley is that his work is invigorating in some way. Perhaps much of it is the fact that he’s relentlessly creative, and that his work spans a range of styles. His latest venture is one that resonates, not least of all in the way it emerged. Of course it was a lockdown thing. I found myself reconnecting with people from way back, at least for a time last summer. But crap wi-fi, schools reopening, people being cajoled back to the office and a slow return to ‘normality’ meant that they were often fleeting, one-offs or rare to the point they soon petered out. Life happens, and it gets in the way.

Novy Zembler is a band / collaboration / project that’s emerged out of this very contemporary scenario, as the blurb explains: ‘Novy Zembler are a new band of old friends from Holland and Gloucestershire. With Corona looming, guitarists Rick Senley and Drew Campbell reconnected through lockdown zooms. Hard drinking friends from 1990s Leicester, the pair’s lives had joined, and separated, from addiction to recovery, families and loss. Despite the decades and the distance, their affection for each other had deepened. With his bands Dog on a Stick and Made in Minsk on hold and the ever present threat of depression, Rick needed a new musical output while in Holland, Drew was struggling with homeschooling his boys and training his new puppy. So with a shared love of The Cure, Mogwai, My Bloody Valentine and Joy Division and an escape into music, the idea of creating together seemed inevitable.’

The six-minute opener and tile track ‘Upstairs’ veers between electropop to soaring post-rock, and packs a fair bit in between, with the exception of vocals. ‘Altro’ is perhaps more accessible, a straight-ahead middling rock tune with an 80s feel. It’s no criticism of the likes of Big Country or The Alarm to note that they were among the acts to define that ‘big’ sound that Novy Zembler recreate here – and perhaps it’s in part a response to bot being able to get out to play music, or to witness music played live in an arena that makes listening to this a perhaps disproportionate rush.

The curtain-closer, ‘November’ is a bit of an indie jangler, and there’s a lot going on here. The’s some nice chiming guitar and ripples of field-type recordings in the background.

Over the course of just three compositions, the pair showcase a diverse range, as well as some quality songs. It’s a strong debut, and it would be good to hear more.

AA

Click on the image to listen.

Novy

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